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H 3 d a h u e nemeepmoe 

M O C K B A 

V. I. L E N I N 



February- July 1918 




From Marx to Mao 

© Digital Reprints 

First printing 1965 
Second printing 1974 




Preface 15 

February- July 1918 






FEBRUARY 23, 1918 Newspaper Report 42 


24, 1918 43 



FEBRUARY 24, 1918. Minutes 53 











MARCH 6-8, 1918 85 

MARCH 7 87 





I 120 

II 121 

MENT, MARCH 8 122 

MARCH 8 123 

MARCH 8 124 


I 125 

II 125 




(EVENING) 144 






I 147 

II 148 






RED ARMY DEPUTIES, MARCH 12, 1918. Verbatim Report .... 164 


MARCH 14-16, 1918 . •Jt^^fL- 169 


MARCH 14. . .1M V/ X . X .W-CV 172 




OF THE SOVIET GOVERNMENT". Verbatim Report 203 

Chapter X 203 

Chapter XI 209 

Chapter XII 213 

Chapter XIII 217 


A. To Members of the Collegium of the Commissariat for 
Justice, and a Copy to the Chairman of the C.E.C. . . 219 

B. Draft Decision on the Council of People's Commissars 219 






APRIL 7, 1918. Newspaper Report 224 



ALL-RUSSIA C.E.C., APRIL 18, 1918 227 


AND RED ARMY DEPUTIES, APRIL 23, 1918. Verbatim Report . . 229 


The International Position of the Russian Soviet Republic 

and the Fundamental Tasks of the Socialist Revolution 237 

The General Slogan of the Moment 243 

The New Phase of the Struggle Against the Bourgeoisie 244 

The Significance of the Struggle for Country-wide Account- 
ing and Control 253 

Raising the Productivity of Labour 257 

The Organisation of Competition 259 

"Harmonious Organisation" and Dictatorship 263 

The Development of Soviet organisation 272 

Conclusion 275 

SESSION OF THE ALL-RUSSIA C.E.C., APRIL 29, 1918 .... 279 








TO THE C.C., R.C.P 322 




I 325 

II 329 

III 333 

IV 339 

V 342 

VI 351 






I 360 

II 361 

III 361 

IV 363 

V 363 


MOSCOW SOVIET, MAY 14, 1918 365 


Newspaper Report 382 



Centralisation of Finances 384 

Income and Property Taxation 384 

Labour Conscription 385 

New Currency 386 



MAY 21, 1918 390 

ON THE FAMINE. A Letter to the Workers of Petrograd ... 391 



SARS FOR LABOUR, MAY 22, 1918 399 


I. Draft Decision of the Council of People's Commissars 404 
II. Directives for the Commission 405 


MAY 26, 1918 408 





THE FAMINE, JUNE 4, 1918 440 


THE FAMINE, JUNE 4, 1918 444 

INTERNATIONALIST TEACHERS, JUNE 5, 1918. Brief Report ... 445 


FOOD DETACHMENTS. Speech at Workers' Meetings in Moscow, 
June 20, 1918. Brief Newspaper Report 448 

CLUB, JUNE 21, 1918, Brief Newspaper Report 450 




JUNE 28, 1918 478 

TION 491 

DISTRICT, JUNE 28, 1918. Brief Newspaper Report 492 



RIDING SCHOOL, JULY 2, 1918. Brief Newspaper Report .... 500 

Newspaper Report 502 


JULY 5, 1918 507 

2. REPLY TO THE DEBATE, JULY 5, 1918 529 


REVOLT Brief Report 534 


ALL-RUSSIA C.E.C., JULY 15, 1918 538 

DISTRICT, JULY 19, 1918 542 



OF FACTORY COMMITTEES, JULY 23, 1918. Newspaper Report . . 545 


1918 549 

DISTRICT, JULY 26, 1918. Brief Newspaper Report 551 


Notes 553 

The Life and Work of V. I. Lenin. Outstanding Dates .... 615 




Portrait of V. I. Lenin, 1918 18-19 

The Decree "The Socialist Fatherland Is in Danger!" written by 
Lenin on February 21, 1918 31 

First page of the manuscript of Lenin's "Resolution on Chang- 
ing the Name of the Party and the Party Programme". 
March 1918 140-41 

First page of the manuscript of Lenin's "Theses on the Tasks 
of the Soviet Government in the Present Situation". March-April 
1918 239 



Volume Twenty-seven contains the works of Lenin written 
between February 21 and July 27, 1918. 

It includes reports, speeches and articles reflecting 
Lenin's work as leader of the Communist Party and the Soviet 
state in the period of the struggle for peace, for Soviet Rus- 
sia's revolutionary withdrawal from the imperialist war, 
for consolidation of Soviet power and for the development 
of socialist construction during the respite that followed 
the conclusion of the Brest peace. 

An important place in the volume is occupied by docu- 
ments aimed against the provocatory policy of Trotsky and 
the "Left Communists", a policy of involving the young 
Soviet Republic, which as yet had no army, in war. Included 
among these documents are the articles: "The Revolutionary 
Phrase", "Peace or War?", "A Painful but Necessary Lesson", 
"Strange and Monstrous", "On a Businesslike Basis", "A 
Serious Lesson and a Serious Responsibility", and also the 
reports and replies to debates on the question of peace at 
the Seventh Party Congress and the Extraordinary Fourth 
Congress of Soviets. 

Lenin's pamphlet "Left-Wing" Childishness and the Petty- 
Bourgeois Mentality sums up the results of the struggle 
with the "Left Communists" over the Brest peace and domes- 
tic policy, and shows that the "Left Communists" expressed 
the interests of the "frenzied petty bourgeois" and were 
"instruments of imperialist provocation". 

A large part of the volume is taken up by works devoted 
to socialist construction, the organisation of nation-wide 
accounting and control, raising the productivity of labour, 
the development of socialist competition, and the inculca- 
tion of new, proletarian discipline. These works include 



Lenin's famous The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Govern- 
ment, in which he outlined the programme of socialist con- 
struction and ways of creating new; socialist production 

Other documents, "On the Famine. A Letter to the 
Workers of Petrograd", the "Report on Combating the Famine" 
delivered at the Joint Meeting of the All-Russia C.E.C., the 
Moscow Soviet of Workers', Peasants' and Red Army 
Deputies and the Trade Unions on June 4, form part of a 
group that shows the spread of the socialist revolution in the 
rural areas, the struggle against the kulaks, the organisation 
of aid for the rural poor, and the establishment of the food 

A number of Lenin's speeches and articles deal with the 
struggle against internal and external counter-revolution 
and the defence of the Soviet Republic. These documents 
include: "Speech Delivered at a Public Meeting in the 
Sokolniki Club", June 21, "Speech at a Public Meeting in the 
Simonovsky Sub-District", June 28, "Interview Granted 
to an Izvestia Correspondent" concerning the Left S.R. 
insurrection, and the "Report Delivered at a Moscow Gubernia 
Conference of Factory Committees", July 23. 

The present volume contains seventeen new documents 
published for the first time in the Collected Works. Most of 
these characterise Lenin's work in organising the defence 
of the Republic at the time of the offensive of the German 
imperialists and when foreign military intervention and 
civil war were just beginning. These include: "The Socialist 
Fatherland Is in Danger!", "Draft of an Order to All 
Soviets", drawing attention to the need for defence in view 
of the possibility of the Germans' breaking off peace 
negotiations, and "Directives to the Vladivostok Soviet" 
concerning the Japanese landing in Vladivostok. 

In the letter to Zinoviev, Lashevich and Stasova, and 
also in the note "By Direct Line. To Zinoviev, the Smoly, 
Petrograd", published in the Collected Works for the first 
time, Lenin exposes the disorganising and anti-state conduct 
of Zinoviev, who held up dispatch of Petrograd workers to 
the front to the detriment of the country's defence. 

Other works published in the Collected Works for the first 
time include: two documents concerning the foundation of 



a socialist academy; two documents on revolutionary tri- 
bunals, "To Members of the Collegium of the Commissariat 
for Justice" and "Draft Decision of the Council of People's 
Commissars"; the letter "To the C.C., R.C.P." protesting 
against a mild sentence passed for bribery; "Basic Proposi- 
tions on Economic and Especially on Banking Policy"; and 
"Food Detachments", a speech delivered at workers' meetings 
in Moscow on June 20. 

The "Protest to the German Government Against the 
Occupation of the Crimea", written on May 11, 1918, had not 
previously been published and appears for the first time in 
the Collected Works. 





When I said at a Party meeting that the revolutionary 
phrase about a revolutionary war might ruin our revolution, 
I was reproached for the sharpness of my polemics. There 
are, however, moments, when a question must be raised sharp- 
ly and things given their proper names, the danger being 
that otherwise irreparable harm may be done to the Party 
and the revolution. 

Revolutionary phrase-making, more often than not, is 
a disease from which revolutionary parties suffer at times 
when they constitute, directly or indirectly, a combination, 
alliance or intermingling of proletarian and petty-bourgeois 
elements, and when the course of revolutionary events is 
marked by big, rapid zigzags. By revolutionary phrase- 
making we mean the repetition of revolutionary slogans 
irrespective of objective circumstances at a given turn in 
events, in the given state of affairs obtaining at the time. 
The slogans are superb; alluring, intoxicating, but there 
are no grounds for them; such is the nature of the revolu- 
tionary phrase. 

Let us examine the groups of arguments, the most 
important of them at least, in favour of a revolutionary 
war in Russia today, in January and February 1918, and 
the comparison of this slogan with objective reality will 
tell us whether the definition I give is correct. 


Our press has always spoken of the need to prepare for 
a revolutionary war in the event of the victory of socialism 
in one country with capitalism still in existence in the 
neighbouring countries. That is indisputable. 



The question is — how have those preparations actually 
been made since our October Revolution? 

We have prepared in this way: we had to demobilise the 
army, we were compelled to, compelled by circumstances 
so obvious, so weighty and so insurmountable that, far from 
a "trend" or mood having arisen in the Party against demo- 
bilisation, there was not a single voice raised against it. 
Anyone who wants to give some thought to the class causes 
of such an unusual phenomenon as the demobilisation of the 
army by the Soviet Socialist Republic before the war with 
a neighbouring imperialist state is finished will without 
great difficulty discover these causes in the social compo- 
sition of a backward country with a small-peasant economy, 
reduced to extreme economic ruin after three years of war. 
An army of many millions was demobilised and the creation 
of a Red Army on volunteer lines was begun — such are the 

Compare these facts with the talk of a revolutionary war 
in January and February 1918, and the nature of the revo- 
lutionary phrase will be clear to you. 

If this "championing" of a revolutionary war by, say, the 
Petrograd and Moscow organisations had not been an empty 
phrase we should have had other facts between October and 
January; we should have seen a determined struggle on their 
part against demobilisation. But there has been nothing 
of the sort. 

We should have seen the Petrograders and Muscovites 
sending tens of thousands of agitators and soldiers to the 
front and should have received daily reports from there 
about their struggle against demobilisation, about the suc- 
cesses of their struggle, about the halting of demobilisation. 

There has been nothing of the sort. 

We should have had hundreds of reports of regiments 
forming into a Red Army, using terrorism to halt demobili- 
sation, renewing defences and fortifications against a pos- 
sible offensive by German imperialism. 

There has been nothing of the sort. Demobilisation is 
in full swing. The old army does not exist. The new army 
is only just being born. 

Anyone who does not want to comfort himself with mere 
words, bombastic declarations and exclamations must see 



that the "slogan" of revolutionary war in February 1918 is 
the emptiest of phrases, that it has nothing real, nothing 
objective behind it. This slogan today contains nothing 
but sentiment, wishes, indignation and resentment. And a 
slogan with such a content is called a revolutionary phrase. 

Matters as they stand with our own Party and Soviet 
power as a whole, matters as they stand with the Bolsheviks 
of Petrograd and Moscow show that so far we have not suc- 
ceeded in getting beyond the first steps in forming a volun- 
teer Red Army. To hide from this unpleasant fact — and fact 
it is — behind a screen of words and at the same time not 
only do nothing to halt demobilisation but even raise no 
objection to it, is to be intoxicated with the sound of 

A typical substantiation of what has been said is, for in- 
stance, the fact that in the Central Committee of our Party 
the majority of the most prominent opponents of a separate 
peace voted against a revolutionary war, voted against it 
both in January and in February. 2 What does that mean? 
It means that everybody who is not afraid to look truth in 
the face recognises the impossibility of a revolutionary 

In such cases the truth is evaded by putting forward, or 
attempting to put forward, arguments. Let us examine them. 


Argument No. 1. In 1792 France suffered economic ruin 
to no less an extent, but a revolutionary war cured every- 
thing, was an inspiration to everyone, gave rise to enthusi- 
asm and carried everything before it. Only those who do 
not believe in the revolution, only opportunists could op- 
pose a revolutionary war in our, more profound revolution. 

Let us compare this reason, or this argument, with the 
facts. It is a fact that in France at the end of the eighteenth 
century the economic basis of the new, higher mode of pro- 
duction was first created, and then, as a result, as a super- 
structure, the powerful revolutionary army appeared. France 
abandoned feudalism before other countries, swept it away 
in the course of a few years of victorious revolution, and led 



a people who were not fatigued from any war, who had won 
land and freedom, who had been made stronger by the 
elimination of feudalism, led them to war against a number 
of economically and politically backward peoples. 

Compare this to contemporary Russia. Incredible fatigue 
from war. A new economic system, superior to the organised 
state capitalism of technically well-equipped Germany, 
does not yet exist. It is only being founded. Our peasants 
have only a law on the socialisation of the land, but not one 
single year of free (from the landowner and from the torment 
of war) work. Our workers have begun to throw the capital- 
ists overboard but have not yet managed to organise produc- 
tion, arrange for the exchange of products, arrange the grain 
supply and increase productivity of labour. 

This is what we advanced towards, this is the road we 
took, but it is obvious that the new and higher economic 
system does not yet exist. 

Conquered feudalism, consolidated bourgeois freedom, 
and a well-fed peasant opposed to feudal countries — such 
was the economic basis of the "miracles" in the sphere of 
war in 1792 and 1793. 

A country of small peasants, hungry and tormented by 
war, only just beginning to heal its wounds, opposed to 
technically and organisationally higher productivity of 
labour — such is the objective situation at the beginning of 

That is why any reminiscing over 1792, etc., is nothing 
but a revolutionary phrase. People repeat slogans, words, 
war cries, but are afraid to analyse objective reality. 


Argument No. 2. Germany "cannot attack", her growing 
revolution will not allow it. 

The Germans "cannot attack" was an argument repeated 
millions of times in January and at the beginning of Febru- 
ary 1918 by opponents of a separate peace. The more cau- 
tious of them said that there was a 25 to 33 per cent proba- 
bility (approximately, of course) of the Germans being 
unable to attack. 



The facts refuted these calculations. The opponents of 
a separate peace here, too, frequently brush aside facts, fear- 
ing their iron logic. 

What was the source of this mistake, which real revolu- 
tionaries (and not revolutionaries of sentiment) should be 
able to recognise and analyse? 

Was it because we, in general, manoeuvred and agitated 
in connection with the peace negotiations? It was not. We 
had to manoeuvre and agitate. But we also had to choose 
"our own time" for manoeuvres and agitation — while it was 
still possible to manoeuvre and agitate — and also for 
calling a halt to all manoeuvres when the issue became 

The source of the mistake was that our relations of revolu- 
tionary co-operation with the German revolutionary workers 
were turned into an empty phrase. We helped and are help- 
ing the German revolutionary workers in every way we 
can — fraternisation, agitation, the publication of secret 
treaties, etc. That was help in deeds, real help. 

But the declaration of some of our comrades — "the Ger- 
mans cannot attack" — was an empty phrase. We have only 
just been through a revolution in our own country. We all 
know very well why it was easier for a revolution to start 
in Russia than in Europe. We saw that we could not check the 
offensive of Russian imperialism in June 1917, although 
our revolution had not only begun, had not only overthrown 
the monarchy, but had set up Soviets everywhere. We saw, 
we knew, we explained to the workers — wars are conducted 
by governments. To stop a bourgeois war it is necessary to 
overthrow the bourgeois government. 

The declaration "the Germans cannot attack" was, there- 
fore, tantamount to declaring "we know that the German Gov- 
ernment will be overthrown within the next few weeks". 
Actually we did not, and could not, know this, and for 
this reason the declaration was an empty phrase. 

It is one thing to be certain that the German revolution 
is maturing and to do your part towards helping it mature, 
to serve it as far as possible by work, agitation and frater- 
nisation, anything you like, but help the maturing of the 
revolution by work. That is what revolutionary proletarian 
internationalism means. 



It is another thing to declare, directly or indirectly, openly 
or covertly, that the German revolution is already mature 
(although it obviously is not) and to base your tactics on it. 
There is not a grain of revolutionism in that, there is nothing 
in it but phrase-making. 

Such is the source of the error contained in the "proud", 
"striking", "spectacular", "resounding" declaration "the 
Germans cannot attack". 


The assertion that "we are helping the German revolution 
by resisting German imperialism, and are thus bringing 
nearer Liebknecht's victory over "Wilhelm" is nothing but 
a variation of the same high-sounding nonsense. 

It stands to reason that victory by Liebknecht — which 
will be possible and inevitable when the German revolution 
reaches maturity — would deliver us from all international 
difficulties, including revolutionary war. Liebknecht's 
victory would deliver us from the consequences of any foolish 
act of ours. But surely that does not justify foolish acts? 

Does any sort of "resistance" to German imperialism help 
the German revolution? Anyone who cares to think a little, 
or even to recall the history of the revolutionary movement 
in Russia, will quite easily realise that resistance to reaction 
helps the revolution only when it is expedient. During a half 
century of the revolutionary movement in Russia we have 
experienced many cases of resistance to reaction that were 
not expedient. We Marxists have always been proud that we 
determined the expediency of any form of struggle by a pre- 
cise calculation of the mass forces and class relationships. 
We have said that an insurrection is not always expedient; 
unless the prerequisites exist among the masses it is a gamble; 
we have often condemned the most heroic forms of resistance 
by individuals as inexpedient and harmful from the point 
of view of the revolution. In 1907, on the basis of bitter 
experience we rejected resistance to participation in the 
Third Duma as inexpedient, etc., etc. 

To help the German revolution we must either limit 
ourselves to propaganda, agitation and fraternisation as 
long as the forces are not strong enough for a firm, serious, 
decisive blow in an open military or insurrectionary clash, 



or we must accept that clash, if we are sure it will not help 
the enemy. 

It is clear to everyone (except those intoxicated with 
empty phrases) that to undertake a serious insurrectionary 
or military clash knowing that we have no forces, knowing 
that we have no army, is a gamble that will not help the 
German workers but will make their struggle more difficult 
and make matters easier for their enemy and for our enemy. 


There is yet another argument that is so childishly ridic- 
ulous that I should never have believed it possible if I had 
not heard it with my own ears. 

"Back in October, didn't the opportunists say that we 
had no forces, no troops, no machine-guns and no equipment, 
but these things all appeared during the struggle, when the 
struggle of class against class began. They will also make 
their appearance in the struggle of the proletariat of Russia 
against the capitalists of Germany, the German proletariat 
will come to our help." 

As matters stood in October, we had made a precise cal- 
culation of the mass forces. We not only thought, we knew 
with certainty, from the experience of the mass elections to 
the Soviets, that the overwhelming majority of the workers 
and soldiers had already come over to our side in Sep- 
tember and in early October. We knew, even if only from the 
voting at the Democratic Conference 3 that the coalition 
had also lost the support of the peasantry — and that meant 
that our cause had already won. 

The following were the objective conditions for the Octo- 
ber insurrectionary struggle: 

(1) there was no longer any bludgeon over the heads of 
the soldiers — it was abolished in February 1917 (Germany 
has not yet reached "her" February); 

(2) the soldiers, like the workers, had already had enough 
of the coalition and had finished their conscious, planned, 
heartfelt withdrawal from it. 

This, and this alone, determined the correctness of the 
slogan "for an insurrection" in October (the slogan would 
have been incorrect in July, when we did not advance it). 



The mistake of the opportunists of October 4 was not 
their "concern" for objective conditions (only children could 
think it was) but their incorrect appraisal of facts — they got 
hold of trivialities and did not see the main thing, that the 
Soviets had come over from conciliation to us. 

To compare an armed clash with Germany (that has not 
yet experienced "her" February or her "July", to say 
nothing of October), with a Germany that has a monarch- 
ist, bourgeois-imperialist government — to compare that 
with the October insurrectionary struggle against the ene- 
mies of the Soviets, the Soviets that had been maturing since 
February 1917 and had reached maturity in September and 
October, is such childishness that it is only a subject for 
ridicule. Such is the absurdity to which people are led by 
empty phrases! 


Here is another sort of argument. "But Germany will 
strangle us economically with a separate peace treaty, she 
will take away coal and grain and will enslave us." 

A very wise argument — we must accept an armed clash, 
without an army, even though that clash is certain to result 
not only in our enslavement, but also in our strangulation, the 
seizure of grain without any compensation, putting us in the 
position of Serbia or Belgium; we have to accept that, 
because otherwise we shall get an unfavourable treaty, 
Germany will take from us 6,000 or 12,000 million in 
tribute by instalments, will take grain for machines, etc. 

O heroes of the revolutionary phrase! In renouncing the 
"enslavement" to the imperialists they modestly pass over in 
silence the fact that it is necessary to defeat imperialism 
to be completely delivered from enslavement. 

We are accepting an unfavourable treaty and a separate 
peace knowing that today we are not yet ready for a revolu- 
tionary war, that we have to bide our time (as we did when 
we tolerated Kerensky's bondage, tolerated the bondage of 
our own bourgeoisie from July to October), we must wait 
until we are stronger. Therefore, if there is a chance of ob- 
taining the most unfavourable separate peace, we absolutely 
must accept it in the interests of the socialist revolution, 



which is still weak (since the maturing revolution in Ger- 
many has not yet come to our help, to the help of the Rus- 
sians). Only if a separate peace is absolutely impossible 
shall we have to fight immediately — not because it will be 
correct tactics, but because we shall have no choice. If it proves 
impossible there will be no occasion for a dispute over tac- 
tics. There will be nothing but the inevitability of the most 
furious resistance. But as long as we have a choice we must 
choose a separate peace and an extremely unfavourable 
treaty, because that will still be a hundred times better 
than the position of Belgium. 5 

Month by month we are growing stronger, although we 
are today still weak. Month by month the international 
socialist revolution is maturing in Europe, although it is 
not yet fully mature. Therefore ... therefore, "revolutionaries" 
(God save us from them) argue that we must accept battle 
when German imperialism is obviously stronger than we are 
but is weakening month by month (because of the slow but 
certain maturing of the revolution in Germany). 

The "revolutionaries" of sentiment argue magnificently, 
they argue superbly! 


The last argument, the most specious and most widespread, 
is that "this obscene peace is a disgrace, it is betrayal of 
Latvia, Poland, Courland and Lithuania". 

Is it any wonder that the Russian bourgeoisie (and their 
hangers-on, the Novy Luch, e Dyelo Naroda 1 and Novaya 
Zhizn s gang) are the most zealous in elaborating this alleged- 
ly internationalist argument? 

No, it is no wonder, for this argument is a trap into which 
the bourgeoisie are deliberately dragging the Russian 
Bolsheviks, and into which some of them are falling 
unwittingly, because of their love of phrases. 

Let us examine the argument from the standpoint of 
theory; which should be put first, the right of nations to 
self-determination, or socialism? 

Socialism should. 

Is it permissible, because of a contravention of the right- 
of nations to self-determination, to allow the Soviet Social- 



ist Republic to be devoured, to expose it to the blows of 
imperialism at a time when imperialism is obviously stronger 
and the Soviet Republic obviously weaker? 

No, it is not permissible — that is bourgeois and not social- 
ist politics. 

Further, would peace on the condition that Poland, 
Lithuania and Courland are returned "to us" be less disgrace- 
ful, be any less an annexationist peace? 

From the point of view of the Russian bourgeois, it would. 

From the point of view of the socialist-internationalist, 
it would not. 

Because if German imperialism set Poland free (which at 
one time some bourgeois in Germany desired), it would 
squeeze Serbia, Belgium, etc., all the more. 

When the Russian bourgeoisie wail against the "obscene" 
peace, they are correctly expressing their class interests. 

But when some Bolsheviks (suffering from the phrase 
disease) repeat that argument, it is simply very sad. 

Examine the facts relating to the behaviour of the Anglo- 
French bourgeoisie. They are doing everything they can to 
drag us into the war against Germany now, they are offering 
us millions of blessings, boots, potatoes, shells, locomotives 
(on credit ... that is not "enslavement", don't fear that! It is 
"only" credit!). They want us to fight against Germany now. 

It is obvious why they should want this; they want it 
because, in the first place, we should engage part of the Ger- 
man forces. And secondly, because Soviet power might col- 
lapse most easily from an untimely armed clash with German 

The Anglo-French bourgeoisie are setting a trap for us: 
please be kind enough to go and fight now, our gain will be 
magnificent. The Germans will plunder you, will "do 
well" in the East, will agree to cheaper terms in the West, 
and furthermore, Soviet power will be swept away.... Please 
do fight, Bolshevik "allies", we shall help you! 

And the "Left" (God save us from them) Bolsheviks 9 are 
walking into the trap by reciting the most revolutionary 

Oh yes, one of the manifestations of the traces of the petty- 
bourgeois spirit is surrender to revolutionary phrases. This 
is an old story that is perennially new.... 




In the summer of 1907 our Party also experienced an 
attack of the revolutionary phrase that was, in some respect, 

St. Petersburg and Moscow, nearly all the Bolsheviks 
were in favour of boycotting the Third Duma; they were 
guided by "sentiment" instead of an objective analysis and 
walked into a trap. 

The disease has recurred. 

The times are more difficult. The issue is a million times 
more important. To fall ill at such a time is to risk ruining 
the revolution. 

We must fight against the revolutionary phrase, we have 
to fight it, we absolutely must fight it, so that at some 
future time people will not say of us the bitter truth that 
"a revolutionary phrase about revolutionary war ruined 
the revolution". 

Pravda No. 31, February 21, 1918 Published according to 

Signed: Karpov the Pravda text, collated 

Izvestia VTsIK No. 43, with the ^estia text 
March 8, 1918 



In order to save this exhausted and ravaged country from 
new ordeals of war we decided to make a very great sacrifice 
and informed the Germans of our readiness to sign their 
terms of peace. Our truce envoys left Rezhitsa for Dvinsk 
in the evening on February 20 (7), and still there is no reply. 
The German Government is evidently in no hurry to reply. 
It obviously does not want peace. Fulfilling the task with 
which it has been charged by the capitalists of all countries, 
German militarism wants to strangle the Russian and Ukrai- 
nian workers and peasants, to return the land to the landown- 
ers, the mills and factories to the bankers, and power to the 
monarchy. The German generals want to establish their 
"order" in Petrograd and Kiev. The Socialist Republic of 
Soviets is in gravest danger. Until the proletariat of Germany 
rises and triumphs, it is the sacred duty of the workers and 
peasants of Russia devotedly to defend the Republic of 
Soviets against the hordes of bourgeois-imperialist Germany. 
The Council of People's Commissars resolves: (1) The coun- 
try's entire manpower and resources are placed entirely at the 
service of revolutionary defence. (2) All Soviets and revolu- 
tionary organisations are ordered to defend every position to 
the last drop of blood. (3) Railway organisations and the 
Soviets associated with them must do their utmost to prevent 
the enemy from availing himself of the transport system; in 
the event of a retreat, they are to destroy the tracks and 
blow up or burn down the railway buildings; all rolling stock 
— carriages and locomotives — must be immediately dis- 
patched eastward, into the interior of the country. (4) All grain 
and food stocks generally, as well as all valuable property 
in danger of falling into the enemy's hands, must be uncon- 



HtoCt. cnac-H n3Hyp«HHyic. KcwpaaHHyw CTpaHy on Honn\ soemiwrt. noun* 
HiA, mm row.™ Ha aMMsafimyiO xcapTSy H 06M8HI1H o Hawetrt cor.iac.H ooffln- 

carv hx-w yc.icBia MMpa. 

KaUIH nspJiaHEHTEPU 20 (7) (eSIQJ!), BeHEPOHl, BtftHJIH H3t 
Ptffllllbl BTi ABMdrb H AD dttti nUl HtTb OTffSTa 

Himsukos npaeMiMMTTBo. oneBHjwo, MeDrnnoTrtTonv Oho mho m He xo*m mmp«. 
BbinofHsa nopyieme KannTa»ncTOB-* Brtx-» CTpwri reptiaHCKii! wMHTap"}** xoiarb 
jnyuiHTkpyccKHxti .t yKpaxHCKHX'v F.fowli h kf«ctmmi. eepHyrv a««,-.n notiWut- 
Kaxv CaipHKH Haaaoju — BaHKHpam.BJacTiKOKapxiH. 

repM&Hw'ie reHtpajiu xonm yctaHoamk cbo» jiocmok V n nerporpMt h bi Kiert 

ConiajiMcroiiia IebjCw. bitnn npi ft hnM cMtratm 

On Tor»MOM«MT». h»«» ne»nxMiic« h noS»A»T» nHMTMlm r«pM»MiM, CMU|W 
hmm« >«.".«» p»So«M»» H hpmthm* PacsU IMMTCI &!»»•**>••» mukit« Pftny. 
AnxxM Cnktin npwrm* non-.«i<> «ypwy*>H»-HHn«»iuiHCtCH»ft rtPMUHi*. 

i) let ckjim h cpijicm enaHti itbmmiib npeaon mfiwotm n ato l 

2) BCtMB CortTIM* H rtlVMIllOffllMMb cpraHWJlfoMb IMtKMTC* Bb I 

uocn MupiHTb nawfi>» hmhbIio flo nocntflHen tonmt roam 

3) f iihnwtUiiii wnam«i * tiumKut <» »»«« Cmi™ o6«»«« »tto« t mum 

pvtb upuam n Marin. Htm w>l rtM i Mate wmi»l txnav-nrtau h mpt- 

m 8%&ST? , nNfHM nenorpm. Dm Kirn npwiv klmn «« « aw—* m 
inli aowra mmh aauxiy MotauaMm (mafanu jlu puna IMM »»» pjnaojetawn. 

uicca Ayanneu h awmootn ■»« huj»Jo«» apcaorupiMitiv csop«nuii»u«w 

7) ietwwait aper»ae*l»HByi»Bi»iUype»i«iotti(>a«»ioi»p«jiu a rm««ai«« in mpo»» 
kUttict SypBjula, »■"*"» er»lxaa!«<« acnoiuonn aiotcnit MMhHIM«Mn m»aHO 
r> BlamtwpMHil Cortttxa* turn, uipunmcx; trttNIMNlMM puanrepu * mpiiaaia 
»wr» aaunUt *oSm«>|nora am pum etoaan m m-«ii ti 

8) HMiipreiiCTis irtKTU, ewrr'aafWi fpoiiuu. xr»«n«u, ma 
BMioau ajKipUaauncx u rtcrV ppttryiucaia. 

CnilislRTVttCEO. DmsnB n warn. Ai wnytn npuwrinean Dimm 
ft aptTwn tawjiiiu cwiMBimias 

Co* in H&jpoAHzix* JCcmuc capon. 

»<N aopua. Hejpcwv 

The Decree "The Socialist Fatherland Is in Danger!" 
written by Lenin on February 21, 1918 




ditionally destroyed; the duty of seeing that this is done is 
laid upon the local Soviets and their chairmen are made 
personally responsible. (5) The workers and peasants of 
Petrograd, Kiev, and of all towns, townships, villages and 
hamlets along the line of the new front are to mobilise 
battalions to dig trenches, under the direction of military 
experts. (6) These battalions are to include all able-bodied 
members of the bourgeois class, men and women, under the 
supervision of Red Guards; those who resist are to be shot. 
(7) All publications which oppose the cause of revolutionary 
defence and side with the German bourgeoisie, or which 
endeavour to take advantage of the invasion of the imperial- 
ist hordes in order to overthrow Soviet rule, are to be sup- 
pressed; able-bodied editors and members of the staffs of such 
publications are to be mobilised for the digging of trenches 
or for other defence work. (8) Enemy agents, profiteers, 
marauders, hooligans, counter-revolutionary agitators and 
German spies are to be shot on the spot. 

The socialist fatherland is in danger! Long live the 
socialist fatherland! Long live the international socialist 

Council of People's Commissars 

February 21, 1918 

Pravda No. 32, 
February 22, 1918 

Published according to 
the Pravda text 



For correct and strict implementation of the Decree of 
the Council of People's Commissars of February 21 it is 

(1) Every worker, after an 8-hour working day, is obliged 
to work three hours daily (or 4V2 hours daily with every third 
day off) on war or administrative work. 

(2) Everyone belonging to the rich class or well-off groups 
(income not less than 500 rubles per month, or owning not 
less than 1,500 rubles in cash) is obliged to provide himself 
immediately with a work book, in which will be entered weekly 
whether he has performed his due share of war or adminis- 
trative work. The entries will be made by the trade union, 
Soviet of Workers' Deputies or local Red Guard detachment, 
whichever he belongs to. 

Work books for well-off persons will cost 50 rubles each. 

(3) Non-workers who do not belong to the well-off classes 
are also obliged to have a work book, for which they will 
pay five rubles (or one ruble, at cost price). 

The work books of the well-off will have columns for weekly 
entry of income and expenditure. 

Failure to possess a work book or the making of incorrect 
(and, still more, false) entries in it will be punished accord- 
ing to wartime laws. 

All those who possess arms must obtain fresh permission 
to do so (a) from the local house committee, (b) from the 
bodies mentioned in item 2. Without these two permissions 



possession of arms is forbidden; the penalty for violating 
this regulation is death by shooting. 

The same penalty is incurred by concealing food. 

For correct organisation of food supplies all citizens are 
obliged to join in consumers' co-operative societies, house....* 

Written February 21 or 22, 1918 

First published on December 22, 1927 Published according to 

in Pravda No. 293 the manuscript 

Here the manuscript breaks off. — Ed. 



The itch is a painful disease. Ana when people are seized 
by the itch of revolutionary phrase-making the mere sight 
of this disease causes intolerable suffering. 

Truths that are simple, clear, comprehensible, obvious 
and apparently indisputable to all who belong to the working 
people are distorted by those suffering from the above- 
mentioned kind of itch. Often this distortion arises from 
the best, the noblest and loftiest impulses, "merely" owing to 
a failure to digest well-known theoretical truths or a child- 
ishly crude, schoolboyishly slavish repetition of them irrel- 
evantly (people don't know "what's what"). But the itch 
does not cease to be harmful on that account. 

What, for example, could be more conclusive and clear 
than the following truth: a government that gave Soviet 
power, land, workers' control and peace to a people tor- 
tured by three years of predatory war would be invincible? 
Peace is the chief thing. If, after conscientious efforts to 
obtain a general and just peace, it turned out in actual fact 
that it was impossible to obtain this at the present time, 
every peasant would understand that one would have to 
adopt not a general peace, but a separate and unjust peace. 
Every peasant, even the most ignorant and illiterate, would 
understand this and appreciate a government that gave him 
even such a peace. 

Bolsheviks must have been stricken by the vile itch of 
phrase-making to forget this and evoke the peasants' most 
legitimate dissatisfaction with them when this itch has led 
to a new war being launched by predatory Germany against 
overtired Russia! The ludicrous and pitiful "theoretical" 
trivialities and sophistries under which this itch is dis- 



guised I have pointed out in an article entitled "The Revoluti- 
onary Phrase" (Pravda, February 21 [8]).* I would not be 
recalling this if the same itch had not cropped up today (what 
a catching disease!) in a new place. 

To explain how this has happened, I shall cite first of all 
a little example, quite simply and clearly, without any 
"theory" — if the itch claims to be "theory" it is intolerable — 
and without erudite words or anything that the masses can- 
not understand. 

Let us suppose Kalyayev, 12 in order to kill a tyrant and 
monster, acquires a revolver from an absolute villain, a 
scoundrel and robber, by promising him bread, money and 
vodka for the service rendered. 

Can one condemn Kalyayev for his "deal with a robber" 
for the sake of obtaining a deadly weapon? Every sensible 
person will answer "no". If there is nowhere else for Kalya- 
vev to get a revolver, and if his intention is really an honour- 
able one (the killing of a tyrant, not killing for plunder), 
then he should not be reproached but commended for acquir- 
ing a revolver in this way. 

But if a robber, in order to commit murder for the sake 
of plunder, acquires a revolver from another robber in return 
for money, vodka or bread, can one compare (not to speak of 
identifying) such a "deal with a robber" with the deal made 
by Kalyayev? 

No, everyone who is not out of his mind or infected by 
the itch will agree that one cannot. Any peasant who saw 
an "intellectual" disavowing such an obvious truth by means 
of phrase-making would say: you, sir, ought not to be manag- 
ing the state but should join the company of wordy buffoons 
or should simply put yourself in a steam bath and get rid 
of the itch. 

If Kerensky, a representative of the ruling class of the 
bourgeoisie, i.e., the exploiters, makes a deal with the Anglo- 
French exploiters to get arms and potatoes from them and at 
the same time conceals from the people the treaties which 
promise (if successful) to give one robber Armenia, Galicia 
and Constantinople, and another robber Baghdad, Syria and 
so forth, is it difficult to understand that this deal is a 

See this volume, pp. 19-29.— Ed 



predatory, swindling, vile deal on the part of Kerensky and 
his friends? 

No, this is not difficult to understand. Any peasant, even 
the most ignorant and illiterate, will understand it. 

But if a representative of the exploited, oppressed class, 
after this class has overthrown the exploiters, and published 
and annulled all the secret and annexationist treaties, is 
subjected to a bandit attack by the imperialists of Germany, 
can he be condemned for making a "deal" with the Anglo- 
French robbers, for obtaining arms and potatoes from them 
in return for money or timber, etc.? Can one find such a deal 
dishonourable, disgraceful, dirty? 

No, one cannot. Every sensible man will understand this 
and will ridicule as silly fools those who with a "lordly" and 
learned mien undertake to prove that "the masses will not 
understand" the difference between the robber war of the 
imperialist Kerensky (and his dishonourable .deals with 
robbers for a division of jointly stolen spoils) and the Kalya- 
yev deal of the Bolshevik Government with the Anglo- 
French robbers in order to get arms and potatoes to repel 
the German robber. 

Every sensible man will say: to obtain weapons by pur- 
chase from a robber for the purpose of robbery is disgusting 
and villainous, but to buy weapons from the same robber 
for the purpose of a just war against an aggressor is some- 
thing quite legitimate. Only mincing young ladies and affected 
youths who have "read books" and derived nothing but affec- 
tation from them can see something "dirty" in it. Apart 
from people of that category only those who have contracted 
the itch can fall into such an "error". 

But will the German worker understand the difference 
between Kerensky's purchase of weapons from the Anglo- 
French robbers for the purpose of annexing Constantinople 
from the Turks, Galicia from the Austrians and Eastern 
Prussia from the Germans — and the Bolsheviks' purchase 
of weapons from the same robbers for the purpose of repel- 
ling Wilhelm when he has moved troops against socialist 
Russia which proposed an honourable and just peace 
to all, against Russia which has declared an end to the war? 

It must be supposed that the German worker will "under- 
stand" this, firstly because he is intelligent and educated, 



and secondly because he is used to a neat and cultured life, 
and suffers neither from the Russian itch in general, nor from 
the itch of revolutionary phrase-making in particular. 

Is there a difference between killing for the purpose of 
robbery and the killing of an aggressor? 

Is there a difference between a war of two groups of plun- 
derers for a division of spoils and a just war for liberation 
from the attack of a plunderer against a people that has 
overthrown the plunderers? 

Does not the appraisal whether I act well or badly in 
acquiring weapons from a robber depend on the end and 
object of these weapons? On their use for a war that is base 
and dishonourable or for one that is just and honourable? 

Ugh! The itch is a nasty disease. And hard is the occupa- 
tion of a man who has to give a steam bath to those infected 
with it.... 

P.S. The North Americans in their war of liberation 
against England at the end of the eighteenth century got help 
from Spain and France, who were her competitors and just 
as much colonial robbers as England. It is said that there 
were "Left Bolsheviks" to be found who contemplated 
writing a "learned work" on the "dirty deal" of these 

Written on February 22, 1918 

Published on February 22, 1918 Published according 

in the evening edition to the Pravda text 

of Pravda No. 33 
Signed: Karpov 



The Germans' reply, as the reader sees, sets us peace terms 
still more onerous than those of Brest-Litovsk. Neverthe- 
less, I am absolutely convinced that only complete intoxi- 
cation by revolutionary phrase-making can impel some 
people to refuse to sign these terms. It was precisely on that 
account that, by articles in Pravda (signed Karpov) on "The 
Revolutionary Phrase" and on "The Itch",* I began a 
relentless struggle against revolutionary phrase-making, 
which I saw and see now as the greatest menace to our Party 
(and, consequently, to the revolution as well). On many 
occasions in history revolutionary parties which wore strict- 
ly carrying out revolutionary slogans became infected with 
revolutionary phrase-making and perished as a result. 

Hitherto I have been trying to persuade the Party to 
fight against revolutionary phrase-making. Now I must do 
this publicly. For — alas! — my very worst suppositions have 
proved justified. 

On January 8, 1918, at a meeting of about 60 of the chief 
Party workers of Petrograd I read out my "Theses on the 
Question of the Immediate Conclusion of a Separate and 
Annexationist Peace" (17 theses, which will be published 
tomorrow). In these theses (paragraph 13) I declared war 
against revolutionary phrase-making, doing so in the mildest 
and most comradely fashion (I now profoundly condemn this 
mildness of mine). I said that the policy of refusing the 
proposed peace "would, perhaps, answer the needs of someone 
who is striving for an eloquent, spectacular and brilliant 
effect, but would completely fail to reckon with the objective 

See this volume, pp. 19-29, 36-39.— Ed. 



relationship of class forces and material factors at the 
present period of the socialist revolution that has begun". 

In the 17th thesis I wrote that if we refuse to sign the pro- 
posed peace, "very heavy defeats will compel Russia to 
conclude a still more unfavourable separate peace". 

Things have turned out still worse, for our army, which 
is retreating and demobilising, is refusing to fight at all. 

Under such conditions, only unrestrained phrase-making 
is capable of pushing Russia into war at the present time 
and I personally, of course, would not remain for a second 
either in the government or in the Central Committee of 
our Party if the policy of phrase-making were to gain the 
upper hand. 

The bitter truth has now revealed itself with such terrible 
clarity that it is impossible not to see it. The entire bour- 
geoisie in Russia is rejoicing and gloating over the arrival 
of the Germans. Only those who are blind or intoxicated by 
phrases can close their eyes to the fact that the policy of a 
revolutionary war (without an army...) brings grist to the 
mill of our bourgeoisie. In Dvinsk, Russian officers are 
already going about wearing their shoulder-straps. 

In Rezhitsa, the bourgeoisie exultantly welcomed the 
Germans. In Petrograd, on Nevsky Prospekt, and in bour- 
geois newspapers (Rech, Dyelo Naroda, Novy Luch, etc.), 
they are licking their lips with delight at the impending 
overthrow of Soviet power by the Germans. 

Let everyone know: he who is against an immediate, even 
though extremely onerous peace, is endangering Soviet 

We are compelled to endure an onerous peace. It will 
not halt the revolution in Germany and in Europe. We shall 
set about preparing a revolutionary army, not by phrases 
and exclamations (after the manner of those who since 
January 7 have done nothing even to halt our fleeing troops), 
but by organisational work, by deeds, by the creation of a 
proper, powerful army of the whole people. 

Written in the morning 
of February 23, 1918 

Published on February 23, 1918 Published according to 

in the evening edition the Pravda text 

of Pravda No. 34 
Signed: Lenin 


FEBRUARY 23, 1918 13 


Lenin spoke in defence of signing the German proposals. 
He began by saying that Soviet power must face up to the 
truth, that it must acknowledge the total impossibility of 
resistance to the Germans. He referred to the previous 
speakers who rejected signature to the treaty, but the view 
that we could organise an army in the near future was wholly 
without grounds; the army did not want to fight and no one 
could compel it to do so; if, however, we were to start 
organising an army, if we were to collect a small handful of 
valiant fighters whom we would throw into the jaws of im- 
perialism, we would thereby lose energetic and ideologically 
equipped fighters who had won us victory. 

Further, Lenin said that our Russian proletariat was not 
at all to blame if the German revolution was delayed. It 
would come but it was not there yet, and for us the best 
way out was to gain time; if we were to sign a peace treaty 
at the present moment, we could subsequently, by energetic, 
organised work, by railway construction and by putting 
food matters in order, create a strong and stable army for 
the defence of our revolution, and before that time the 
socialist revolution in Germany would certainly arrive. 

Published on February 24, 1918 in Published according to 

Izvestia of the Soviets of Workers', the newspaper text 

Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies of 
the City of Moscow and Moscow 
Region No. 32 


FEBRUARY 24, 1918 14 

Comrades, the terms put to us by the representatives 
of German imperialism are unprecedentedly severe, immeas- 
urably oppressive, predatory terms. The German imperial- 
ists, taking advantage of the weakness of Russia, have 
their knee on our chest. Not to conceal from you the bitter 
truth of which I am deeply convinced, the situation being 
what it is, I must tell you that we have no other way out 
than to subscribe to these terms. And that any other proposal 
means to incur, either voluntarily or involuntarily, still 
worse evils and further (if one can speak here of degrees) 
complete subjection of the Soviet Republic, its enslavement 
to German imperialism, or it is a pitiful attempt at using 
words to evade a terrible, immeasurably cruel, but undeni- 
able reality. Comrades, you all know very well, and many 
of you know it from personal experience, that the burden 
Russia had to bear in the imperialist war was for indispu- 
table reasons that everyone can understand more terrible and 
severe than that endured by other countries. You know, 
therefore, that our army was martyrised and tortured by 
the war as was no other, that all the slanders cast at us by 
the bourgeois press and the parties which supported it, or 
which were hostile to the Soviet government, alleging that 
the Bolsheviks were demoralising the troops, are nonsense. 
I shall remind you once again of the proclamation which 
Krylenko, while still an ensign under Kerensky, distributed 
to the troops when he left for Petrograd, and which was 
reprinted in Pravda, and in which he said: we do not urge 
upon you any kind of mutiny, we urge upon you organised 



political actions; strive to be as organised as possible. 15 
Such was the propaganda of one of the most ardent representa- 
tives of the Bolsheviks, one who was most closely connected 
with the army. Everything that could be done to hold to- 
gether this unprecedentedly, immeasurably fatigued army, 
and to make it stronger, was done. And if we see now, though 
I have entirely refrained, during the last month, for exam- 
ple, from setting out my view, which could seem pessimistic, 
if we have seen that, as regards the army during the past 
month, we have said all that could be said, and done all 
that could be done, to ease the situation, reality has shown 
us that after three years of war our army is altogether unable 
and unwilling to fight, That is the basic cause, simple, 
obvious, and in the highest degree bitter and painful, but 
absolutely clear, why, living side by side with an imperialist 
plunderer, we are compelled to sign peace terms when he 
puts his knee on our chest. That is why I say, fully conscious 
of the responsibility I bear, and repeat that no single member 
of the Soviet government has the right to evade this respon- 
sibility. Of course, it is pleasant and easy to tell the workers, 
peasants and soldiers, as it has been pleasant and easy to 
observe, how the revolution has gone forward after the Octo- 
ber uprising, but when we have to acknowledge the bitter, 
painful, undeniable truth — the impossibility of a revolu- 
tionary war — it is impermissible now to evade this respon- 
sibility and we must shoulder it frankly. I consider myself 
obliged, I consider it essential to fulfil my duty and state 
plainly how things are, and therefore I am convinced that 
the class of toilers of Russia, who know what war is, what it 
has cost the working people and the degree of exhaustion 
to which it has led them, that — I do not doubt it for a 
moment — they along with us recognise the unprecedented 
severity, grossness and vileness of these peace terms and nev- 
ertheless approve our conduct. They will say: you undertook 
to propose the terms of an immediate and just peace, you 
should have utilised every possibility of delaying peace in 
order to see whether other countries would join in, whether 
the European proletariat, without whose help we cannot 
achieve a lasting socialist victory, would come to our aid. 
We did everything possible to protract the negotiations, we 
did even more than was possible; what we did was that after 



the Brest negotiations we declared the state of war at an end, 
confident as many of us were that the situation in Germany 
would not allow her to make a brutal and savage attack on 

This time we have had to endure a heavy defeat, and we 
have to be able to look the defeat straight in the face. Yes, 
hitherto the revolution has proceeded along an ascending 
line from victory to victory; now it has suffered a heavy 
defeat. The German working-class movement, which began 
so rapidly, has been interrupted for a time. We know that 
its main causes have not been abolished, and that they will 
grow and will inevitably extend because the excruciating 
war is being drawn out, because the bestiality of imperialism 
is being exposed ever more fully and obviously, and is 
opening the eyes of masses of people who might seem to be 
most remote from politics or incapable of understanding 
socialist policy. That is why this desperate, tragic situation 
has arisen, which compels us to accept peace now and will 
compel the masses of the working people to say: yes, they 
acted correctly, they did all they could to propose a just 
peace, they had to submit to a most oppressive and unfor- 
tunate peace because the country had no other way out. 
Their situation is such that they are forced to wage a life- 
and-death struggle against the Soviet Republic; if they are 
unable now to continue their intention of advancing against 
Petrograd and Moscow it is only because they are tied up 
in a bloody and predatory war with Britain, and because 
there is an internal crisis as well. When it is pointed out to 
me that the German imperialists may present us with still 
worse conditions tomorrow or the day after, I say that we 
must be prepared for that; naturally, living side by side 
with bestial plunderers, the Soviet Republic must expect 
to be attacked. If at present we cannot reply by war it is 
because the forces are lacking, because war can be waged 
only together with the people. If the successes of the revo- 
lution cause many comrades to say the opposite, that is 
not a mass phenomenon, it does not express the will and 
opinion of the real masses. If you go to the class of real toil- 
ers, to the workers and peasants, you will hear only one 
answer, that we are quite unable to wage war, we lack the 
physical strength, we are choked in blood, as one of the sol- 



diers put it. These masses will understand us and approve 
of our concluding this forced and unprecedentedly onerous 
peace. It may be that the respite needed for an upswing of the 
masses will take no little time, but those who had to live 
through the long years of revolutionary battles in the period 
of the upswing of the revolution and the period when the 
revolution fell into decline, when revolutionary calls to 
the masses obtained no response from them, know that all 
the same the revolution always arose afresh. Therefore we 
say: yes, at present the masses are not in a state to wage war, 
at present every representative of the Soviet government 
is obliged to tell the people to its face the whole bitter truth. 
The time of unheard-of hardship and of three years of war 
and of the desperate disruption left by tsarism will pass 
away, and the people will recover its strength and find itself 
capable of resistance. At present the oppressor confronts 
us; it is best, of course, to answer oppression by a revolu- 
tionary war, by an uprising, but, unfortunately, history has 
shown that it is not always possible to answer oppression by 
an uprising. But to refrain from an uprising does not mean 
refraining from the revolution. Do not succumb to the pro- 
vocation coming from the bourgeois newspapers, the enemies 
of Soviet power. Indeed, they have nothing except talk 
about "an obscene peace" and cries of "shame!" about this 
peace, but in fact this bourgeoisie greets the German con- 
querors with delight. They say: "Now, at last, the Germans 
will come and restore order", that is what they want and so 
they bait us with cries of "an obscene peace, a shameful 
peace". They want the Soviet government to give battle, an 
unheard-of battle, knowing that we lack strength, and they 
are dragging us into complete enslavement to the German 
imperialists in order to do a deal with the German gendarmes, 
but they express only their own class interests, because they 
know that the Soviet government is growing stronger. These 
voices, these cries against peace, are in my view the best 
proof of the fact that those who reject this peace have not 
only been consoling themselves with unjustified illusions 
but have succumbed to provocation. No, we must look the 
disastrous truth squarely in the face: before us is the oppres- 
sor with his knee on our chest, and we shall fight with all 
the means of revolutionary struggle. At present, however, 



we are in a desperately difficult situation, our ally cannot 
hasten to our aid, the international proletariat cannot come 
just now, but it will come. This revolutionary movement, 
which at present has no possibility of offering armed 
resistance to the enemy, is rising and it will offer resistance 
later, but offer it it will. (Applause.) 

A brief report of this speech 
was published on February 26, 1918 
in Pravda No. 35 

First published in full in 1926 Published according to 

in N. Lenin (V. Ulyanov), the verbatim report 

Collected Works 
Vol. XX, Part, II 



The outstanding and most responsible opponents of the 
conclusion of a separate peace on the Brest terms have set 
out the essence of their arguments in the following form: 

Here are advanced the most concentrated, the most 
important arguments, set out almost in the form of a resolu- 
tion. For convenience in analysing the arguments, we have 
numbered each proposition separately. 

When one examines these arguments, the authors' main 
error immediately strikes the eye. They do not say a word 
about the concrete conditions of a revolutionary war at the 
present moment. The chief and fundamental consideration 
for the supporters of peace, namely, that it is impossible 
for us to fight at the present time, is altogether evaded. In 
reply — in reply, say, to my theses,* well-known to the auth- 
ors since January 8 — they put forward exclusively general 
considerations, abstractions, which inevitably turn into 
empty phrases. For every general historical statement 
applied to a particular case without a special analysis of 
the conditions of that particular case becomes an empty 

See present edition, Vol. 26, pp. 442-50.— Ed. 



Take the first proposition. Its whole "point" is a reproach, 
an exclamation, a declamation, an effort to "shame" the 
opponent, an appeal to sentiment. See what bad people you 
are, they say: the imperialists are attacking you, "proclaim- 
ing" as their aim the suppression of the proletarian revo- 
lution, and you reply by agreeing to conclude peace! But 
our argument, as the authors are aware, is that by rejecting 
an onerous peace we actually make it easier for the enemy 
to suppress the proletarian revolution. And this conclusion 
of ours is reinforced (for example, in my theses) by a number- 
of very concrete indications about the state of the army, its 
class composition, etc. The authors have avoided everything 
concrete and the result they arrive at is an empty phrase. 
For if the enemy are "proclaiming" that their aim is to suppress 
the revolution, then he is a bad revolutionary who by choos- 
ing an admittedly impossible form of resistance helps to 
achieve a transition from the "proclamation" to the realisa- 
tion of the enemy's aims. 

Second argument: "reproaches" are being intensified. 
You, they say, agree to peace at the first onslaught of the 

enemy Do the authors seriously suppose that this can be 

convincing for those who ever since January, long before 
the "onslaught", analysed the relationship of forces and the 
concrete conditions of the war at that time? Is it not phrase- 
making if "reproach" is regarded as argument against 

Agreeing to peace under the present conditions, we are 
told, "is a surrender of the foremost contingent of the inter- 
national proletariat to the international bourgeoisie". 

Again an empty phrase. General truths are inflated in 
such a way that they become untrue and are turned into 
declamation. The German bourgeoisie is not "international", 
for the Anglo-French capitalists welcome our refusal to con- 
clude peace. "Surrender", generally speaking, is a bad thing, 
but this praiseworthy truth does not decide every indivi- 
dual proposition, for refusal to fight under obviously unfa- 
vourable conditions can also be called surrender, but such 
surrender is obligatory for a serious revolutionary. Agreeing 
to enter the Third Duma, the concluding of peace with 
Stolypin, as the "Left" declamationists called it at that 
time, wag also, generally speaking, a surrender. 



We are the foremost contingent in the sense of the revolu- 
tionary beginning, that is indisputable, but in order to be 
the foremost contingent in the sense of a military clash with 
the forces of foremost imperialism, that....* 

Written February 23 or 24, 1918 

First published in 1929 Published according to 

in Lenin Miscellany XI the manuscript 

Here the manuscript breaks off. — Ed. 



Trotsky was right when he said: the peace may be a triply 
unfortunate peace, but the peace ending this hundredfold 
obscene war cannot be an obscene, disgraceful, dirty peace. 

It is incredibly, unprecedentedly hard to sign an unfor- 
tunate, immeasurably severe, infinitely humiliating peace 
when the strong has the weak by the throat. But it is imper- 
missible to give way to despair, impermissible to forget 
that history has examples of still greater humiliations, 
still more unfortunate, onerous peace terms. Yet even so, 
the peoples crushed by bestially cruel conquerors were able 
to recover and rise again. 

Napoleon I crushed and humiliated Prussia immeasurably 
more heavily than Wilhelm is now crushing and humiliat- 
ing Russia. 17 For a number of years Napoleon I was com- 
pletely victorious on the continent; his victory over Prussia 
was much more decisive than Wilhelm's victory over Rus- 
sia. Yet after a few years Prussia recovered and in a war of 
liberation, not without the aid of robber states that waged 
against Napoleon by no means a war of liberation but an 
imperialist war, threw off the Napoleonic yoke. 

Napoleon's imperialist wars continued for many years, 
took up a whole epoch and exhibited an extremely complex 
network of imperialist* relationships interwoven with 
national liberation movements. And as a result, through all 
this epoch, unusually rich in wars and tragedies (tragedies of 
whole peoples), history went forward from feudalism to 
"free" capitalism. 

* I call here imperialism the plunder of foreign countries in 
general and an imperialist war the war of plunderers for the division 
of such booty. 



History is now advancing still more swiftly, the tragedies 
of whole nations that are being crushed or have been crushed 
by imperialist war are immeasurably more terrible. The 
interweaving of imperialist and national liberation trends, 
movements and aspirations is also in evidence, with the 
immense difference that the national liberation movements 
are immeasurably weaker and the imperialist ones immeas- 
urably stronger. But history goes steadily forward, and in 
the depths of all the advanced countries there is maturing — 
despite everything — the socialist revolution, a revolution 
infinitely deeper, closer to the people and more powerful 
than the previous bourgeois revolution. 

Hence, again and yet again: of all things the most imper- 
missible is despair. The peace terms are intolerably severe. 
Nevertheless history will come into its own; to our aid will 
come — even if not so quickly as we should like — the steadily 
maturing socialist revolution in other countries. 

The plunderer has besieged us, oppressed and humiliated 
us — we are capable of enduring all these burdens. We are 
not alone in the world. We have friends, supporters, very 
loyal helpers. They are late — owing to a number of conditions 
independent of their will — but they will come. 

Let us work to organise, organise and yet again organise! 
The future, in spite of all trials, is ours. 

Pravda No. 34, 
February 24, 1918 

Published according to 
the Pravda text 


OF THE R.S.D.L.P.(B.) 
FEBRUARY 24, 1918 


The question of sending a delegation to Brest to sign the peace 
treaty was discussed. 

Lenin considered that it was necessary to preserve conti- 
nuity with the preceding delegation and since it would not 
be enough for Comrade Karakhan to go alone, it was very 
desirable that Comrades Joffe and Zinoviev should go. 


A. A. Joffe categorically refused to go, declaring that "concluding 
peace is the death of the whole Brest policy. 

Lenin said that he did not insist on Joffe going as a 
plenipotentiary for signing the treaty, but he considered 
Comrade Joffe should go as a consultant. Undoubtedly, the 
Germans had sent their answer in the form of an ultimatum, 
fearing opposition on our part, but if they saw our willingness 
to sign the peace treaty they might agree also to negotia- 
tions. In view of this a consultant who knew the whole mat- 
ter was essential. If it turned out that it was only necessary 
to sign, then, of course, there would be nothing to talk about, 
and the consultant would not even appear at the meeting. 




Lenin said that Radek, though opposed to concluding 
peace, had nevertheless agreed to go, but the Poles had 
forbidden him to do so. 


In further discussion L. D. Trotsky declared that in Brest it would 
only be necessary to sign the peace treaty and A. A. Joffe would not 
be necessary there, since in the Germans' reply there was already a 
formulation on the chief questions. 

Lenin considered that he was wrong, since experts were 
undoubtedly required at the signing of the treaty and we 
had none, even for a trade treaty. Krasin could have gone, 
but he had gone to Stockholm for a time. We were going to 
sign the treaty with clenched teeth, about which the delega- 
tion had made its declaration, but we did not know the 
situation, we did not know what might happen by the time 
the delegation arrived in Brest, and therefore Joffe as 
a consultant was essential. In general it must be borne 
in mind that we empowered the delegation to enter into 
negotiations if there was any possibility of doing so. 


In further discussion the candidatures of G. Y. Zinoviev and 
G. Y. Sokolnikov were put forward. 

Lenin considered that both should be sent, and that if 
it was only a question of signing the peace treaty, they 
could both leave at once, having reached agreement with 
Chicherin about further developments. 


G. Y, Sokolnikov declared that he would not go to Brest and if 
the Central Committee insisted he would resign from the Central 

Lenin asked the comrades not to get excited and pointed 
out that Comrade Petrovsky could go in the delegation as 
People's Commissar. 




L. D. Trotsky's statement about his resigning the post of People's 
Commissar for Foreign Affairs was discussed. 

Lenin pointed out that this was unacceptable, that a 
change of policy was a crisis. That a questionnaire on policy 
had been distributed in the provinces, 18 and that to pole- 
mise a little was not at all harmful. 

He made a practical proposal: the Central Committee 
would ask Comrade Trotsky to postpone his statement until 
the next meeting of the C.C, until Tuesday. (Amendment — 
until the return of the delegation from Brest.) 


Lenin proposed that the following declaration should 
be put to the vote: the C.C, considering it impossible to 
accept the resignation of Comrade Trotsky at the present 
time, requests him to postpone his decision until the return 
of the delegation from Brest or until a change in the actual 
state of affairs. 

Adopted with three abstaining. 


L. D. Trotsky declared that since his statement had not been accept- 
ed he would be compelled to give up appearing in official institutions. 

Lenin moved that it should be voted: the Central Commit- 
tee, having heard Comrade Trotsky's statement, while fully 
agreeing to Comrade Trotsky's absence during decisions 
on foreign affairs in the Council of People's Commissars, 
requests Comrade Trotsky not to keep aloof from other 



The C.C. discussed the statement of A. Lomov, M. S. Uritsky, 
V. M. Smirnov, G. L. Pyatakov, D. P. Bogolepov and A. P. Spunde 
about their resignation from posts in the Council of People's Commis- 
sars. M. S. Uritsky expressed the hope that their statement concerning 
their resignation from responsible Party and Soviet posts would be 

Lenin moved that it be adopted: the C.C. requests the 
comrades who submitted the statement to postpone their 



decision until the return of the delegation from Brest and 
to discuss this decision of the C.C. in the group. 


Lenin moved two proposals: 

1) While recognising the legitimate demand of the four, 
the C.C. requests them to discuss the proposal of the C.C. 
and to postpone their statement both in view of the near- 
ness of the Congress and in view of the complexity of the 
political situation. 

2) While guaranteeing the comrades the publication of 
their statement in Pravda, the C.C. requests them to revise 
their decision and to discuss whether they do not find it 
possible to remain both in responsible posts and in the C.C. 19 

Lenin's proposals were accepted. 

First published in full Published according to 

in 1928 in the magazine the text of the book: 

Proletarskaya Revolutsia Minutes of the C.C. of 

No. 2 (73) the R.S.D.L.P., 

August 1917-February 1918, 1929 



Not to conclude peace at the present moment means 
declaring an armed uprising or a revolutionary war against 
German imperialism. This is either phrase-making or a 
provocation by the Russian bourgeoisie, which is thirsting 
for the arrival of the Germans. In reality we cannot fight 
at the present time, for the army is against the war and 
is unable to fight. The week of war against the Germans, 
in face of whom our troops simply ran away, from February 18 
to 24, 1918, has fully proved this. We are prisoners of Ger- 
man imperialism. Not empty phrases about an immediate 
armed uprising against the Germans, but the systematic, 
serious, steady work of preparing a revolutionary war, the 
creation of discipline and an army, the putting into order 
of the railways and food affairs. That is the point of view 
of the majority of the C.E.C., including Lenin (and the 
majority of the C.C., Bolsheviks), and of Spiridonova and 
Malkin (the minority of the C.C., Left Socialist-Revolu- 

Written February 24, 1918 

First published in 1929 
in Lenin Miscellany XI 

Published according to 
the manuscript 



Dear Comrades, 

The Organising Bureau of the Central Committee considers 
it essential to submit to you an explanation of the motives 
that led the Central Committee to agree to the peace terms 
proposed by the German Government. The Organising 
Bureau is addressing this explanation to you, comrades, in 
order that all Party members should be thoroughly informed 
of the point of view of the Central Committee which, in the 
period between Congresses, represents the entire Party. The 
Organising Bureau considers it essential to state that the 
Central Committee was not unanimous on the question of 
signing the peace terms. Since the decision has been made, 
however, it must be supported by the whole Party. A Party 
Congress is due in a few days, and only then will it be pos- 
sible to decide the question of the extent to which the Cen- 
tral Committee rightly expressed the actual position of the 
whole Party. Until the Congress, all Party members, in 
pursuance of their duty to the Party and for the sake of the 
maintenance of unity in our Party ranks, will carry out the 
decisions of their central leading body, the Central Commit- 
tee of the Party. 

The absolute necessity of signing, at the given moment 
(February 24, 1918), an annexationist and unbelievably 
harsh peace treaty with Germany is due primarily to the 
fact that we have no army and cannot defend ourselves. 


Everybody knows why since October 20, 1917, since the 
victory of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the poor 
peasantry, we have all become defencists, we are all for the 
defence of the fatherland. 

From the point of view of defending the fatherland, it 
is impermissible for us to allow ourselves to be drawn into 
an armed conflict when we have no army and the enemy is 
armed to the teeth and excellently prepared. 

The Soviet Socialist Republic cannot wage a war when the 
obviously overwhelming majority of the masses of workers, 
peasants and soldiers who elect deputies to the Soviets are 
against the war. It would be a rash gamble. It will be a 
different thing if an end is put to this war, excessively harsh 
though the terms of peace may be, and German imperialism 
again decides to start an aggressive war against Russia. 
Then the majority of the Soviets will most certainly be in 
favour of war. 

To wage war today would amount objectively to falling 
for the provocation of the Russian bourgeoisie. They know 
full well that at the moment Russia is defenceless and 
would be crushed by even insignificant German forces, which 
would have only to cut the main railway lines to starve 
Petrograd and Moscow into surrendering. The bourgeoisie 
want war, because they want the overthrow of Soviet power 
and an agreement with the German bourgeoisie. The jubila- 
tion of the bourgeoisie when the German troops arrived in 
Dvinsk and Rezhitsa, Venden and Gapsal, Minsk and Drissa 
confirms this as clearly as can be. 

Defence of revolutionary war at the present moment is 
nothing but an empty revolutionary phrase. It is impossible 
for a ruined peasant country to wage a modern war against 
advanced imperialism without an army and without the most 
serious economic preparation. It is beyond all doubt that 
German imperialism must be resisted, for it will crush us 
and hold us prisoner. It would, however, be empty talk to 
demand resistance specifically by means of armed uprising, 
especially now, when such resistance is obviously hopeless 
for us, and obviously to the advantage of the German and 
Russian bourgeoisie. 

It is equally empty talk to argue in favour of revolution- 
ary war at this moment on the grounds of support for the 



international socialist movement. If we make it easier 
for German imperialism to crush the Soviet Republic by our 
untimely acceptance of battle, we shall harm and not help 
the German and international working-class movement and 
the cause of socialism. We must help only the revolutionary 
internationalists in all countries by all-round, persistent 
and systematic work; but to undertake the gamble of launch- 
ing an armed uprising, when it would obviously be a gamble, 
is unworthy of a Marxist. 

If Liebknecht is victorious in two or three weeks (which 
is possible) he will, of course, get us out of all difficulties. 
It would, however, be simply foolish and would be turning 
the great slogan of the solidarity of the working people of 
all countries into sheer mockery if we were to assure the peo- 
ple that Liebknecht will certainly and unavoidably score 
victory within the next few weeks. Indeed, by arguing in 
this way we should be turning the great slogan "We bank on 
the world revolution" into an empty phrase. 

Objectively the situation is similar to that of the summer 
of 1907. Then, it was the Russian monarchist Stolypin who 
crushed us and held us prisoner; today it is the German 
imperialist. Then, the slogan of an immediate insurrection, 
which, unfortunately, was supported by the entire Socialist- 
Revolutionary Party, proved to be an empty phrase. Today, 
at this very moment, the slogan of revolutionary war is 
obviously an empty phrase that attracts the Left Socialist- 
Revolutionaries, who repeat the arguments of the Right 
Socialist-Revolutionaries. We are the prisoners of German 
imperialism and we have ahead of us a long and difficult 
struggle to overthrow that ringleader of world imperialism; 
this struggle is undoubtedly the last decisive struggle for 
socialism, but to begin that struggle at the present moment 
with an armed uprising against the leader of imperialism 
would be a gamble that no Marxist would ever undertake. 

The systematic, unrelenting, all-round building up of 
the country's defence potential, self-discipline everywhere, 
the use of grievous defeat to improve discipline in all spheres 
of life for the purpose of the country's economic progress 
and the consolidation of Soviet power — that is the task of 
the day, that is the way to prepare a revolutionary war in 
deed and not merely in word. 


In conclusion, the Organising Bureau considers it essen- 
tial to state that, since the offensive of German imperialism 
has not yet been halted, all members of the Party must 
organise a concerted opposition to it. If it is impossible to sign 
a peace treaty, even the harshest, and gain time to prepare 
for new battles, our Party must emphasise the need to exert 
every effort for all-out resistance. 

If we can gain time, gain even a brief respite for organi- 
sational work, we must do our best to get it. If we are granted 
no deferment our Party must call on the masses to fight, 
to engage in the most energetic self-defence. We are confi- 
dent that all Party members will do their duty by the Par- 
ty, by the working class of their country, by the people and 
the proletariat. By preserving Soviet power we are rendering 
the best, the most powerful support to the proletariat of all 
countries in their incredibly hard struggle against their own 
bourgeoisie. Today the cause of socialism could suffer no 
heavier blow than the collapse of Soviet power in Russia. 

With comradely greetings, 

Organising Bureau of the Central Committee 
of the R.S.D.L.P. (Bolsheviks) 

Written February 24, 1918 

Published on February 26, 1918 
in Pravda No. 35 

Published according to 
the Pravda text 



The week from February 18 to 24, 1918, has been one that 
will be remembered as a great turning-point in the history 
of the Russian — and the international — revolution. 

On February 27, 1917, the Russian proletariat, jointly 
with part of the peasantry who had been aroused by the 
course the war was taking, and also with the bourgeoisie, 
overthrew the monarchy. On April 21, 1917, the proletariat 
overthrew the absolute rule of the imperialist bourgeoisie 
and shifted power into the hands of the petty-bourgeois 
advocates of compromise with the bourgeoisie. On July 3, the 
urban proletariat gave the compromisers' government a 
severe shock by its spontaneous demonstration. On October 25, 
it overthrew that government and established the dictator- 
ship of the proletariat and the poor peasantry. 

This victory had to be defended in civil war. It took 
about three months, beginning with the victory over Keren- 
sky near Gatchina, continued in the victories over the bour- 
geoisie, the officer cadets and part of the counter-revolution- 
ary Cossacks in Moscow, Irkutsk, Orenburg and Kiev, and 
ending with the victory over Kaledin, Kornilov and Alexe- 
yev at Rostov-on-Don. 

The fire of proletarian insurrection flared up in Finland, 
and the conflagration spread to Rumania. 

Victories on the home front were achieved with relative 
ease since the enemy did not possess any material or organi- 
sational advantage, and, furthermore, did not have any sound 
economic basis or any support among the masses. The ease 
with which these victories were gained was bound to turn 
the heads of many leaders! Their attitude has been; "We'll 
have a walk-over." 



They have disregarded the widespread disintegration of 
the army, which is rapidly demobilising itself and abandoning 
the front. They have become intoxicated with revolutionary 
phrases. They have applied them to the struggle against 
world imperialism. They have mistaken Russia's temporary 
"freedom" from imperialist pressure for something normal, 
although actually that "freedom" was due only to an inter- 
ruption in the war between the German and Anglo-French 
plunderers. They have mistaken the mass strikes that are 
beginning in Austria and Germany for a revolution that is 
supposed to have delivered us from any serious danger from 
German imperialism. Instead of serious, effective, sustained 
work to aid the German revolution, which is coming to birth 
in a particularly difficult and painful manner, we have had 
people waving their arms — "what can those German imperi- 
alists do — with Liebknecht on our side we'll kick them out 
in no time!" 

The week from February 18 to February 24, 1918, from 
the capture of Dvinsk to the capture of Pskov (later recap- 
tured), the week of imperialist Germany's military offensive 
against the Soviet Socialist Republic, has been a bitter, 
distressing, and painful lesson, but it has been a necessary, 
useful and beneficial one. How highly instructive it has 
been to compare the two groups of telegraphic and telephonic 
communications that have reached the central government 
in the past week! On the one hand there has been the unres- 
trained flood of "resolution-type" revolutionary phrases — one 
might call them Steinberg phrases, if one recalls a chef- 
d'oeuvre in that style, the speech of the "Left" (hm ... hm) 
Socialist-Revolutionary Steinberg at the Saturday meeting of 
the Central Executive Committee. 21 On the other hand there 
have been the painful and humiliating reports of regiments 
refusing to retain their positions, of refusal to defend even 
the Narva Line, and of disobedience to the order to destroy 
everything in the event of a retreat, not to mention the 
running away, the chaos, ineptitude, helplessness and 

A bitter, distressing, painful but necessary, useful and 
beneficial lesson! 

The thoughtful, class-conscious worker will draw three 
conclusions from this historic lesson — on our attitude to the 



defence of the fatherland, its defence potential and to 
socialist revolutionary war; on the conditions under which we 
may come into collision with world imperialism; on the 
correct presentation of the question of our attitude to the 
world socialist movement. 

We are and have been defencists since October 25, 1917, 
we champion the defence of the fatherland ever since that day. 
That is because we have shown by deeds that we have broken 
away from imperialism. We have denounced and published 
the filthy, bloodstained treaties of the imperialist plotters. 
We have overthrown our own bourgeoisie. We have given 
freedom to the peoples we formerly oppressed. We have given 
land to the people and introduced workers' control. We are in 
favour of defending the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic. 

And because we are in favour of defending the fatherland 
we demand a serious attitude towards the country's defence 
potential and preparedness for war. We declare a ruthless 
war against revolutionary phrases about revolutionary war. 
There must be a lengthy, serious preparation for it, begin- 
ning with economic progress, the restoration of the railways 
(for without them modern warfare is an empty phrase) and 
with the establishment of the strictest revolutionary disci- 
pline and self-discipline everywhere. 

From the point of view of the defence of the fatherland 
it would be a crime to enter into an armed conflict with an 
infinitely superior and well-prepared enemy when we obvious- 
ly have no army. From the point of view of the defence of 
the fatherland we have to conclude the most harsh, oppres- 
sive, brutal, disgraceful peace — not in order to "capitulate" 
to imperialism but in order to learn and prepare to fight 
against imperialism in a serious and effective manner. 

The past week has raised the Russian revolution to an 
immeasurably higher level of historical development. In 
the course of it history has progressed, has ascended several 
steps at once. 

Until now we have been faced with miserable, despicable 
(from the standpoint of world imperialism) enemies, an idiot 
called Romanov, Kerensky the boaster, gangs of officer 
cadets and bourgeois. Now there has arisen against us the 
giant of world imperialism, a splendidly organised and tech- 
nically well-equipped, civilised giant. That giant must be 



fought. And one must know how to fight him. A peasant coun- 
try that has been subjected to unparalleled devastation by 
three years of war and that has begun the socialist revolution, 
must avoid armed conflicts — must avoid them while it is 
still possible, even at the cost of huge sacrifices — in order 
to be able to do something worthwhile before the "last, 
decisive battle" begins. 

That battle will begin only when the socialist revolution 
breaks out in the leading imperialist countries. That revo- 
lution is undoubtedly maturing and growing stronger month 
by month, week by week. That growing strength must be 
helped. And we have to know how to help it. It would harm 
and not help that growing strength if we were to give up the 
neighbouring Soviet Socialist Republic to destruction at a 
moment when it obviously has no army. 

We must not turn into an empty phrase the great slogan 
"We bank on the victory of socialism in Europe". It is a 
true slogan if we have in mind the long and difficult path 
to the full victory of socialism. It is an indisputable philo- 
sophic-historical truth in respect of the entire "era of the 
socialist revolution". But any abstract truth becomes an 
empty phrase if it is applied to any concrete situation. It is 
indisputable that "every strike conceals the hydra of the 
social revolution". But it is nonsense to think that we can 
stride directly from a strike to the revolution. If we 
"bank on the victory of socialism in Europe" in the sense 
that we guarantee to the people that the European revolution 
will break out and is certain to be victorious within the next 
few weeks, certainly before the Germans have time to reach 
Petrograd, Moscow or Kiev, before they have time to "finish 
off" our railway transport, we shall be acting not as serious 
internationalist revolutionaries, but as adventurers. 

If Liebknecht is victorious over the bourgeoisie in two or 
three weeks (it is not impossible), he will get us out of all 
difficulties. That is beyond doubt. If, however, we determine 
our tactics for today in the struggle against the imperial- 
ism of today in the hope that Liebknecht will probably be 
victorious within the next few weeks, we shall deserve 
nothing but ridicule. We shall be turning the greatest 
revolutionary slogans of the present day into an empty 
revolutionary phrase. 



Worker comrades, learn from the painful but useful les- 
sons of the revolution! Prepare seriously, vigorously and 
unwaveringly to defend the fatherland, to defend the Soviet 
Socialist Republic! 

Pravda (evening edition) No. 35 
February 25, 1918 
Signed: Lenin 

Published according to 
the Pravda text 



1. Choose Moscow as the seat of government. 

2. From each department evacuate the minimum number of 
leaders of the central administrative body, not more than 
two or three dozen people (plus families). 

3. Whatever happens, immediately remove the State 
Bank, the gold and the Stationery Office. 

4. Begin evacuating Moscow valuables. 

Written February 26, 1918 

First published in 1929 Published according to 

in Lenin Miscellany XI the manuscript 



The Moscow Regional Bureau of our Party, in a resolu- 
tion adopted on February 24, 1918, has expressed lack of con- 
fidence in the Central Committee, refused to obey those of 
its decisions "that will be connected with the implementa- 
tion of the terms of the peace treaty with Austria and Ger- 
many", and, in an "explanatory note" to the resolution, 
declared that it "considers a split in the Party in the very 
near future hardly avoidable".* 

There is nothing monstrous, nor even strange in all this. 
It is quite natural that comrades who sharply disagree with 
the Central Committee over the question of a separate peace 
should sharply condemn the Central Committee and express 
their conviction that a split is inevitable. All that is the 
most legitimate right of Party members, which is quite 

But here is what is strange and monstrous. An "explan- 
atory note" is appended to the resolution. Here it is in full: 

"The Moscow Regional Bureau considers a split in the 
Party in the very near future hardly avoidable, and it sets 
itself the aim of helping to unite all consistent revolution- 
ary communists who equally oppose both the advocates of 

* Here is the full text of the resolution: "Having discussed the activ- 
ities of the Central Committee, the Moscow Regional Bureau of the 
R.S.D.L.P. expresses lack of confidence in the Central Committee in 
view of its political line and composition, and will at the first oppor- 
tunity insist that a new Central Committee be elected. Furthermore, 
the Moscow Regional Bureau does not consider itself bound to obey 
unreservedly those decisions of the Central Committee that will be 
connected with the implementation of the terms of the peace treaty 
with Austria and Germany." The resolution was adopted unanimously. 



the conclusion of a separate peace and all moderate opportu- 
nists in the Party. In the interests of the world revolution, 
we consider it expedient to accept the possibility of losing 
Soviet power, which is now becoming purely formal. We main- 
tain as before that our primary task is to spread the ideas of 
the socialist revolution to all other countries and resolutely 
to promote the workers' dictatorship, ruthlessly to sup- 
press bourgeois counter-revolution in Russia." 

It is the words we have stressed in this passage which 
are — strange and monstrous. 

It is in these words that the crux of the matter lies. 

These words reduce to an absurdity the whole line put 
forward by the authors of the resolution. These words expose 
the root of their error with exceptional clarity. 

"In the interests of the world revolution it is expedient to 

accept the possibility of losing Soviet power " That is 

strange, for there is not even any connection between the 
premises and the conclusion. "In the interests of the world 
revolution it is expedient to accept the military defeat of 
Soviet power" — such a proposition might be right or wrong, 
but it could not be called strange. That is the first thing. 

Second thing: Soviet power "is now becoming purely 
formal". Now this is not only strange but downright mon- 
strous. Obviously, the authors have got themselves thor- 
oughly entangled. We shall have to disentangle them. 

As regards the first question, the authors' idea evi- 
dently is that it would be expedient in the interests of the 
world revolution to accept the possibility of defeat in war, 
which would lead to the loss of Soviet power, in other words, 
to the triumph of the bourgeoisie in Russia. By voicing this 
idea the authors indirectly admit the truth of what I said 
in the theses (on January 8, 1918, published in Pravda 
on February 24, 1918),* namely, that refusal to accept the 
peace terms presented by Germany would lead to Russia's 
defeat and the overthrow of Soviet power. 

And so, la raison finit toujours par avoir raison — the 
truth always triumphs! My "extremist" opponents, the Mus- 
covites who threaten a split, have been obliged — just because 
they have got to the point of talking openly of a split — to 

See present edition, Vol. 26, pp. 442-50.— Ed. 



be equally explicit about their real reasons, the reasons 
which people who confine themselves to general phrase-mak- 
ing about revolutionary war prefer to pass over in silence. 
The very essence of my theses and arguments (as anyone who 
cares to read attentively my theses of January 7, 1918, may 
see) is that we must accept this extremely harsh peace now, 
at once, while at the same time seriously preparing for a 
revolutionary war (and accept it, moreover, precisely in 
the interest of such serious preparations). Those who confined 
themselves to general phrase-making about a revolutionary 
war ignored or failed to notice, or did not want to notice, 
the very essence of my arguments. And now it is my "extrem- 
ist" opponents, the Muscovites, whom I have to thank 
from the bottom of my heart for having broken the "conspir- 
acy of silence" over the essence of my arguments. The Mus- 
covites have been the first to reply to them. 
And what is their reply? 

Their reply is an admission of the correctness of my con- 
crete argument. Yes, the Muscovites have admitted, we 
shall certainly be defeated if we fight the Germans now.* 
Yes, this defeat would certainly lead to the fall of Soviet 

Again and again I thank my "extremist" opponents, the 
Muscovites, from the bottom of my heart for having broken 
the "conspiracy of silence" against the essence of my argu- 
ments, i.e., against my concrete statement as to what the 
conditions of war would be, if we were to accept it at once, 
and for having fearlessly admitted the correctness of my con- 
crete statement. 

Further, on what grounds are my arguments, the substan- 
tial correctness of which the Muscovites have been compelled 
to admit, rejected? 

On the grounds that in the interests of the world revolu- 
tion we must accept the loss of Soviet power. 

* As to the counter-argument, that to avoid fighting was anyway 
impossible, the reply has been given by the facts: On January 8 my 
theses were read; by January 15 we might have had peace. A respite 
would have been certainly assured (and for us even the briefest respite 
would have been of gigantic significance, both materially and morally, 
for the Germans would have had to declare a new war), if ... if it had 
not been for revolutionary phrase-making. 



Why should the interests of the world revolution demand 
it? This is the crux of the matter; this is the very essence 
of the reasoning of those who would like to defeat my argu- 
ments. And it is on this, the most important, fundamental 
and vital point, that not a word is said, either in the reso- 
lution or in the explanatory note. The authors of the reso- 
lution found time and space to speak of what is universally 
known and indisputable — of "ruthlessly suppressing bour- 
geois counter-revolution in Russia" (using the methods and 
means of a policy which would lead to the loss of Soviet 
power?), and of opposing all moderate opportunists in the 
Party — but of that which is really disputable and which 
concerns the very essence of the position of the opponents of 
peace — not a word! 

Strange. Extremely strange. Did the authors of the reso- 
lution keep silent about this because they felt that on this 
point they were particularly weak? To have plainly stated 
why (this is demanded by the interests of the world revolu- 
tion) would most likely have meant exposing themselves 

However that may be, we have to seek out the arguments 
which may have guided the authors of the resolution. 

Perhaps the authors believe that the interests of the 
world revolution forbid making any peace at all with impe- 
rialists? This opinion was expressed by some of the opponents 
of peace at one of the Petrograd meetings, but only an 
insignificant minority of those who objected to a separate 
peace supported it. 23 It is clear that this opinion would 
lead to a denial of the expediency of the Brest negotiations 
and to a rejection of peace, "even" if accompanied by the 
return of Poland, Latvia and Courland. The incorrectness of 
this view (which was rejected, for example, by a majority of 
the Petrograd opponents of peace) is as clear as day. A 
socialist republic surrounded by imperialist powers could 
not, from this point of view, conclude any economic treaties, 
and could not exist at all, without flying to the moon. 

Perhaps the authors believe that the interests of the world 
revolution require that it should be given a push, and that 
such a push can be given only by war, never by peace, which 
might give the people the impression that imperialism was 
being "legitimised"? Such a "theory" would be completely 
at variance with Marxism, for Marxism has always been 



opposed to "pushing" revolutions, which develop with the 
growing acuteness of the class antagonisms that engender 
revolutions. Such a theory would be tantamount to the view 
that armed uprising is a form of struggle which is obligatory 
always and under all conditions. Actually, however, the 
interests of the world revolution demand that Soviet power, 
having overthrown the bourgeoisie in our country, should 
help that revolution, but that it should choose a form of 
help which is commensurate with its own strength. To help 
the socialist revolution on an international scale by accept- 
ing the possibility of defeat of that revolution in one's 
own country is a view that does not follow even from the 
"pushing" theory. 

Perhaps the authors of the resolution believe that revo- 
lution has already begun in Germany and has already reached 
the stage of an open, nation-wide civil war, that we must 
therefore devote our strength to helping the German workers, 
and must perish ourselves ("losing Soviet power") to save 
a German revolution which has already started its decisive 
fight and is being hard pressed? According to this theory, 
we, while perishing ourselves, would be diverting part of 
the forces of German counter-revolution, thereby saving the 
German revolution. 

It is quite conceivable that, given these premises, it would 
not only be "expedient" (as the authors of the resolution put 
it) but a downright duty to accept the possibility of defeat 
and the possibility of the loss of Soviet power. But obviously 
these premises do not exist. The German revolution is ripen- 
ing, but it has obviously not reached the stage of an explo- 
sion in Germany, of civil war in Germany. By "accepting the 
possibility of losing Soviet power", we certainly would not 
be helping the German revolution to reach maturity, but 
would be hindering it. We would be helping German reaction, 
playing into its hands, hampering the socialist move- 
ment in Germany and frightening away from socialism large 
masses of German proletarians and semi-proletarians who 
have not yet come over to socialism and would be scared by 
the defeat of Soviet Russia, just as the British workers were 
scared by the defeat of the Paris Commune in 1871. 

Twist and turn them how you will, but you can 
find no logic in the authors' contentions. There are no 



sensible arguments to support the view that "in the interests 
of the world revolution it is expedient to accept the possi- 
bility of losing Soviet power". 

"Soviet power is now becoming purely formal" — this, as 
we see, is the monstrous view the authors of the Moscow re- 
solution have come to proclaim. 

Since the German imperialists are going to make us pay 
indemnities and forbid us to carry on propaganda and agita- 
tion against Germany, Soviet power loses all significance 
and "becomes purely formal" — this is probably the line of 
"reasoning" of the authors of the resolution. We say "proba- 
bly", for the authors offer nothing clear and specific in sup- 
port of their thesis. 

Profound and hopeless pessimism and complete despair — 
such is the sum and substance of the "theory" that the sig- 
nificance of Soviet power is purely formal, and that tactics 
which will risk the possible loss of Soviet power are permis- 
sible. Since there is no salvation anyway, then let even 
Soviet power perish — such is the sentiment that dictated 
this monstrous resolution. The allegedly "economic" argu- 
ments in which such ideas are sometimes clothed reveal the 
same hopeless pessimism: what sort of Soviet republic is it — 
the implication is — when not just tribute, but tribute on 
such a scale can be exacted from it? 

Nothing but despair: we shall perish anyhow! 

It is a quite understandable mood in the extremely des- 
perate situation in which Russia finds herself. But it is 
not "understandable" among conscious revolutionaries. The 
typical thing about it is that here we have the views of the 
Muscovites reduced to absurdity. The Frenchmen of 1793 
would never have said that their gains — the republic and 
democracy — were becoming purely formal and that they 
would have to accept the possibility of losing the republic. 
They were not filled with despair, but with faith in victory. 
To call for a revolutionary war, and at the same time to talk 
in an official resolution of "accepting the possibility of losing 
Soviet power", is to expose oneself completely. 

Early in the nineteenth century, at the time of the Napo- 
leonic wars, Prussia and a number of other countries suffered 
incomparably and immeasurably greater hardships and 
burdens of defeat, conquest, humiliation and oppression on 



the part of the conqueror than Russia is suffering in 1918. 
Yet the best men of Prussia, when Napoleon's military jack- 
boots trampled upon them a hundred times more heavily 
than we can be trampled upon now, did not despair, and did 
not say that their national political institutions were 
"purely formal". They did not give up, did not succumb to 
the feeling: "We shall perish anyhow." They signed peace 
treaties infinitely more drastic, brutal, humiliating and 
oppressive than the Brest Treaty, and then knew how to bide 
their time; they staunchly bore the conqueror's yoke, fought 
again, fell under the conqueror's yoke again, again signed 
the vilest of vile peace treaties, and again rose, and in the 
end liberated themselves (not without exploiting the dissen- 
sions among the stronger competing conquerors). 

Why shouldn't this be repeated in our history? 

Why should we give way to despair and write resolu- 
tions — which, by heavens, are more disgraceful than the 
most disgraceful peace — saying that "Soviet power is 
becoming purely formal"? 

Why shouldn't the most crushing military defeats in the 
struggle against the giants of modern imperialism steel the 
national character in Russia, too, strengthen self-discipline, 
put an end to the bragging and phrase-making, teach for- 
titude and bring the people round to the correct tactics of 
the Prussians when they were crushed by Napoleon — the 
tactics of signing the most humiliating of peace treaties when 
you haven't an army, then mustering your forces and rising 
again and again? 

Why should we give way to despair at the first peace 
treaty, incredibly harsh though it be, when other nations 
were able staunchly to bear even bitterer misfortunes? 

Is it the staunchness of the proletarian who knows that 
one must submit when strength is lacking, and is then never- 
theless is able to rise again and again at any price and to 
build up strength under all circumstances, that corresponds 
to these tactics of despair, or, rather, the spinelessness 
of the petty bourgeois, who in our country, in the shape 
of the Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party, has beaten the 
record for phrase-making about a revolutionary war? 

No, dear Moscow "extremist" comrades, every day of 
trial will drive away from you those very workers who are 



the most class-conscious and the staunchest. Soviet power, 
they will say, is not becoming, and will not become, purely 
formal; and not only now, when the conqueror is in Pskov 
and is making us pay a ten-thousand-million-ruble tribute 
in grain, ore and money, but even if he gets as far as Nizhni- 
Novgorod and Rostov-on-Don and makes us pay a tribute of 
twenty thousand million rubles. 

Never will any foreign conquest render a popular polit- 
ical institution "purely formal" (and Soviet power is not 
only a political institution far and away superior to any- 
thing known to history). On the contrary, alien conquest 
will only strengthen popular sympathy for Soviet power, 
provided — provided it does not indulge in reckless follies. 

And to refuse to conclude even the vilest peace when you 
have no army would be a reckless gamble, for which the 
people would be justified in condemning the government 
that refused to do so. 

Immensely more harsh and humiliating peace treaties 
than the Brest Treaty have been signed before in history 
(we gave some instances above) without discrediting the re- 
gime or turning it into a formality; they ruined neither 
the regime nor the people, but rather steeled the people, 
taught them the stern and difficult science of building up 
an effective army even in the most desperate conditions and 
under the heel of the conqueror. 

Russia is making for a new and genuine patriotic war, 
a war for the preservation and consolidation of Soviet power. 
It is possible that another epoch will — like the epoch of 
the Napoleonic wars — be an epoch of liberation wars (not 
one war, but wars) imposed by aggressors upon Soviet Rus- 
sia. That is possible. 

And, therefore, more humiliating than any harsh or even 
extremely harsh peace, rendered imperative owing to the 
lack of an army — more humiliating than any humiliating 
peace is humiliating despair. We shall not perish even from 
a dozen obnoxious peace treaties if we take revolt and war 
seriously. No conquerors can destroy us if we do not destroy 
ourselves by despair and phrase-making. 

Pravda Nos. 37 and 38, 
February 28 and March 1, 1918 
Signed: N. Lenin 

Published according to 
the Pravda text 



We are witnessing an upsurge of revolutionary enthusiasm 
called forth by the treacherous assault of the German white- 
guards on the Russian revolution. Telegrams are pouring in 
from everywhere expressing readiness to rise in defence of 
Soviet power and to fight to the last man. No other attitude 
on the part of the workers and peasants towards their own 
workers' and peasants' power could have been expected. 

But enthusiasm alone is not enough for the conduct of 
war against such an adversary as German imperialism. 
A frivolous attitude towards this real, stubborn and bloody 
war would be the sheerest simple-mindedness, even a crime. 

War must be waged in earnest, or not waged at all. There 
can be no middle course. Since the German imperialists 
are forcing war upon us, it is our sacred duty soberly to 
weigh our situation, calculate our forces and check up the 
economic machinery. All this must be done at wartime speed, 
for any procrastination in our present situation would be 
truly "similar to death". Hannibal is at the gates — that we 
must not forget for a single minute. 

To wage the war in earnest we need a strong and organised 
rear. Even the best of armies, even people most sincerely 
devoted to the revolutionary cause will be immediately exter- 
minated by the enemy, if they are not adequately armed, 
supplied with food and trained. That is so obvious as to 
need no explanation. 

What is the state of the rear of our revolutionary army? 
Most deplorable, to say the least. The preceding war has 
utterly disorganised our transport services; exchange between 
town and countryside has been disrupted, and the direct 
and immediate result of this is famine in the large cities. 



Our army is radically reshaping itself under the 
blows of the enemy. The old army, which was familiar with 
conditions of modern warfare, no longer exists. Utterly worn 
out by the preceding war, and tired to death by three and 
a half years in the trenches, it is a nonentity as far as its 
fighting capacity is concerned. The Red Army is undoubtedly 
splendid fighting material, but raw and unfinished mate- 
rial. In order that it may not become cannon fodder for the 
German guns, it must be trained and disciplined. 

We are facing colossal difficulties. All local Soviets must 
immediately, following upon their telegrams announcing 
readiness to fight the external enemy, report how many 
truckloads of grain they have dispatched to Petrograd, what 
number of troops they are in a position to send to the front 
immediately, and how many Red Army men are undergoing 
training. Stock must be taken of all arms and shells, and the 
production of new arms and shells must be resumed immediate- 
ly. The railways must be cleared of bag-traders and hooli- 
gans. The strictest revolutionary discipline must be 
restored everywhere. Only if all these conditions are observed 
can we talk of war seriously. Otherwise, all the talk about 
the "most revolutionary of wars" will be phrase-making. And 
phrase-mongering, which is always harmful, may at this crit- 
ical juncture play a fatal role. 

I am profoundly convinced that our revolution will cope 
with the colossal difficulties of the moment. It has already 
performed an immense work, but if our cause is to be 
successfully accomplished we must multiply our efforts a 

Only then shall we win. 

Pravda No. 38, 
March 1, 1918 

Published according to 
the Pravda text 



We assume that the peace treaty will be signed tomor- 
row, March 3, but the reports of our agents, taken in connec- 
tion with all the circumstances, lead us to expect that among 
the Germans the party of war against Russia will gain the 
upper hand in the very near future. Hence the categorical 
order: delay the demobilisation of Red Army men; intensify 
preparations for blowing up railways, bridges and roads; 
mobilise and arm detachments; continue accelerated evacua- 
tion; withdraw armaments into the interior of the country. 

Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars 

V. Ulyanov (Lenin) 

Written on March 2, 1918 

First published in 1929 
in Lenin Miscellany XI 

Published according to 
the manuscript 



Our pseudo-Lefts, who yesterday brought out their 
own paper, the Kommunist 24 (Communist of the pre-Marxian 
era, one should add), are trying to dodge the lesson and lessons 
of history, are trying to dodge responsibility. 

But they are dodging in vain. They will not succeed in 
dodging it. 

The dodgers are trying their hardest, are filling count- 
less newspaper columns, are sweating and straining, are not 
sparing "even", as they put it, printer's ink to represent the 
"breathing-space" "theory" as an unfounded and unsound 
theory . 

Alas, their efforts are powerless to refute the facts. Facts 
are stubborn things, as the English proverb rightly says. 
It is a fact that from March 3, when at 1 p.m. the Germans 
ceased hostilities, to March 5, at 7 p.m., when I am writing 
these lines, we have had a breathing-space, and we have 
already made use of these two days for the businesslike (as 
expressed in deeds, not phrase-making) defence of the 
socialist fatherland. This is a fact which will become more 
evident to the masses every day. It is a fact that at a moment 
when the army at the front, being in no condition to fight, 
is fleeing in panic, abandoning its guns and not even stop- 
ping to blow up bridges, the defence of the fatherland and 
the raising of its defensive capacity lie not in babbling 
about a revolutionary war (to babble in the face of this 
panic-stricken flight of the army — not one detachment of 
which was stopped by the advocates of revolutionary war — 
is downright shameful), but in retreating in good order, so 
as to save the remnants of the army, taking advantage of 
every day's respite for this purpose. 



Facts are stubborn things. 

Our pseudo-Lefts, in their efforts to dodge the facts, 
the lessons to be derived from them and the question of 
responsibility, are endeavouring to conceal from their readers 
the recent, quite fresh and historically important past, and 
to gloss it over by references to the distant and unimportant 
past. For example, K. Radek; in his article recalls that he 
wrote about the necessity of helping the army to hold out 
in December (December, mind you!), in a "memorandum 
to the Council of People's Commissars". I have not had the 
opportunity to read this memorandum and I ask myself: 
why does not Karl Radek print it in full? Why does he not 
explain clearly and frankly what exactly he meant then by 
a "compromise peace"? Why does he not recall the more 
recent past, when he wrote in Pravda about his illusion 
(the worst of all illusions) that peace could be concluded 
with the German imperialists on condition of the restora- 
tion of Poland? 


Because the pseudo-Lefts are compelled to gloss over 
facts which reveal their, the "Lefts'", responsibility for 
sowing illusions which actually helped the German imperial- 
ists and hindered the growth and development of the 
revolution in Germany. 

N. Bukharin is now even attempting to deny the fact 
that he and his friends asserted that it was impossible for 
the Germans to attack. But very, very many people know 
that it is a fact, that Bukharin and his friends did assert 
this, and that by sowing such an illusion they helped German 
imperialism and hindered the growth of the German revolu- 
tion, which has now been weakened by the fact that the Great- 
Russian Soviet Republic, during the panic-stricken flight of 
the peasant army, has been deprived of thousands upon thou- 
sands of guns and of wealth to the value of hundreds upon 
hundreds of millions. I had predicted this definitely and 
clearly in my theses of January 7.* If N. Bukharin is now 
compelled to eat his words, so much the worse for him. All 
who remember that Bukharin and his friends said that it 
was impossible for the Germans to attack will only shrug 

See present edition, Vol. 26, pp. 442-50.— Ed. 



their shoulders now that N. Bukharin is compelled to eat 
his own words. 

And for the benefit of those who do not remember them, 
of those who did not hear them, let us refer to a document 
which is a little more valuable, interesting and instructive 
now than what K. Radek wrote in December. This document, 
which unfortunately is being concealed by the "Lefts" from 
their readers, is the record (1) of the vote on January 21, 
1918, at the meeting of the Central Committee of our Party 
with the present "Left" opposition, and (2) of the vote in 
the Central Committee on February 17, 1918. 

On January 21, 1918, on the question of whether to break 
off negotiations with the Germans immediately, Stukov 
alone (of the contributors to the pseudo-Left Kommunist) 
voted in favour. All the rest voted against. 

On the question of whether it was permissible to sign an 
annexationist treaty if the Germans should break off nego- 
tiations or present an ultimatum, only Obolensky (When will 
"his" theses be published? Why is the Kommunist silent 
about them?) and Stukov voted against. All the rest voted 
in favour. 

On the question of whether in this event the proposed 
peace should be concluded, only Obolensky and Stukov voted 
against. The rest of the "Lefts" abstainedW That is a fact. 

On February 17, 1918, when the question was put: who 
is in favour of a revolutionary war? — Bukharin and Lomov 
"refused to vote on the question as put". None voted in 
favour. That is a fact! 

On the question of whether to "refrain from resuming 
peace negotiations until the German attack becomes suffi- 
ciently (sic!) evident and its influence upon the German 
working-class movement becomes clear", Bukharin, Lomov 
and Uritsky, of the present contributors to the "Left" paper, 
voted in favour. 

On the question, "Should we conclude peace if a German 
offensive becomes a fact and a revolutionary upsurge fails 
to eventuate in Germany and Austria?" — Lomov, Bukharin 
and Uritsky abstained. 

Facts are stubborn things. And the facts show that Bu- 
kharin denied the possibility of a German offensive and sowed 
illusions by which he actually, against his own wishes, helped 



the German imperialists and hindered the growth of the 
German revolution. That indeed is the essence of revolu- 
tionary phrase-making. You strive for one thing and achieve 
the opposite. 

N. Bukharin rebukes me for not giving a concrete analy- 
sis of the terms of the present peace. But it should not be 
difficult to understand that from the point of view of my 
argument and of the essence of the matter there was not, nor 
is there now, any necessity for that. It was enough to show 
that we are facing only one real — not imagined — dilemma: 
either to accept such terms as would afford us a breathing 
space for a few days at least, or the position of Belgium 
and Serbia. And this Bukharin did not refute, even in the 
eyes of Petrograd. That his colleague, M. N. Pokrovsky, 

And if the new terms are worse, more onerous and humil- 
iating than the bad, onerous and humiliating Brest terms, 
it is our pseudo-Lefts, Bukharin, Lomov, Uritsky and Co., 
who are to blame for this happening to the Great-Russian 
Soviet Republic. This is a historical fact, as is proved by 
the voting referred to above. It is a fact you cannot escape, 
wriggle as you will. You were offered the Brest terms, and 
you replied by blustering and swaggering, which led to worse 
terms. That is a fact. And you cannot absolve yourselves of 
the responsibility for it. 

In my theses of January 7, 1918, it was predicted with 
the utmost clarity that in view of the state of our army 
(which could not be changed by phrase-making "against" 
the tired peasant masses), Russia would have to conclude a 
worse separate peace if she did not accept the Brest peace. 

The "Lefts" fell into a trap set by the Russian bourgeoisie, 
who had to embroil us in the worst kind of war we could 
possibly become embroiled in. 

That these Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, in declaring 
for war now, have obviously parted company with the peas- 
antry, is a fact. And this fact attests to the frivolity of the 
policy of Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, just as the seeming- 
ly "revolutionary" policy of all the Socialist-Revolutiona- 
ries in the summer of 1907 was frivolous. 

That the more class-conscious and advanced workers are 
quickly shaking off the fumes of revolutionary phrase-making 



is shown by the example of Petrograd and Moscow. 
In Petrograd the best of the workers' districts — Vyborg and 
Vasilyevsky Island — have already sobered up. The Petro- 
grad Soviet of Workers' Deputies is not in favour of war now, 
they have realised that it is necessary to prepare for it, and 
are preparing for it. 25 In Moscow, at the Bolshevik city 
conference on March 3 and 4, 1918, the opponents of revolu- 
tionary phrase-making won the day. 26 

To what monstrous lengths of self-deception our "Lefts" 
have gone is evident from one sentence in Pokrovsky's 
article, which says: "If we are to fight, we must fight now'" 
(Pokrovsky's italics), "while" (listen to this!) "the Russian 
army, including the newly-formed units, has still not been 

But everybody who does not shut his eyes to the facts 
knows that the greatest hindrance to resisting the Germans 
in February 1918, whether in Great Russia, the Ukraine, 
or Finland, was our undemobilised army. That is a fact. For 
it could not help fleeing in panic, carrying the Red Army 
detachments along with it. 

Anyone who wants to benefit by the lessons of history, 
and not to hide from the responsibility they impose, or shut 
his eyes to them, let him recall at least the wars of Napoleon I 
against Germany. 

Many a time did Prussia and Germany conclude with the 
conqueror peace treaties ten times more onerous and humili- 
ating (than ours), even to the extent of accepting a foreign 
police, even to the extent of undertaking to furnish troops 
to help Napoleon I in his campaigns of conquest. Napoleon I 
in his treaties with Prussia harassed and dismembered Ger- 
many ten times worse than Hindenburg and Wilhelm have 
pinned us down now. Yet there were people in Prussia who 
did not bluster, but signed ultra-"disgraceful" peace treaties, 
signed them because they had no army, signed terms ten 
times more oppressive and humiliating, and then in spite 
of everything rose up in revolt and to wage war. That happened 
not once, but many times. History knows of several such 
peace treaties and wars. Of several cases of respite. Of 
several new declarations of war by the conqueror. Of several 
cases of an alliance between an oppressed nation and an 
oppressing nation, which was a rival of the conqueror and 



no less a conqueror itself (be it noted by the advocates of a "re- 
volutionary war" without accepting aid from imperialists!). 
Such was the course of history. 

So it was. So it will be. We have entered an epoch of 
a succession of wars. We are moving towards a new, patriotic 
war. We will arrive at that war in the midst of a ripening 
socialist revolution. And while on that difficult road the 
Russian proletariat and the Russian revolution will be able 
to cure themselves of blustering and revolutionary phrase- 
making, will know how to accept even the most onerous peace 
treaties, and then rise again. 

We have signed a Tilsit Peace. We shall attain our victory 
and our liberation, just as the Germans after the Peace of 
Tilsit of 1807 attained their liberation from Napoleon in 
1813 and 1814. The interval between our Tilsit Peace and 
our liberation will probably be shorter, for history is moving 

Down with blustering! On with the improvement of 
discipline and organisation in all earnest! 

Written on March 5, 1918 

Published on March 6, 1918 Published according to 

in Pravda No. 42 the manuscript 

Signed: N. Lenin 

OF THE R.C.P.(B.y 7 

MARCH 6-8, 1918 

First published in full in 1923 
in the book Seventh Congress 

of the Russian Communist Party. 

Verbatim Report. March 6-8, 1918 

Published in 1928 according to the book: 
Minutes of the Congresses 
and Conferences 
of the Ail-Union Communist 
Party (Bolsheviks). — Seventh Congress. 
March 1918, collated with 
the verbatim report 
and the 1923 edition 
of the above book 





A political report might consist of an enumeration of 
measures taken by the Central Committee; but the essential 
thing at the present moment is not a report of this kind, 
but a review of our revolution as a whole; that is the only 
thing that can provide a truly Marxist substantiation of 
all our decisions. We must examine the whole preceding 
course of development of the revolution and ascertain why 
the course of its further development has changed. There 
have been turning-points in our revolution that will have 
enormous significance for the world revolution. One such 
turning-point was the October Revolution. 

The first successes of the February Revolution were due 
to the fact that the proletariat was followed, not only by 
the masses of the rural population, but also by the bourgeoi- 
sie. Hence, the easy victory over tsarism, something we had 
failed to achieve in 1905. The spontaneous formation of 
Soviets of Workers' Deputies in the February Revolution 
was a repetition of the experience of 1905 — we had to pro- 
claim the principle of Soviet power. The masses learned 
the tasks of the revolution from their own experience of the 
struggle. The events of April 20-2 1 28 were a peculiar com- 
bination of demonstrations and of something in the nature 
of armed uprising. This was enough to cause the fall of the 
bourgeois government. Then began the long period of the 
collaboration policy, which stemmed from the very nature 
of the petty-bourgeois government that had come to power. 
The July events 29 could not then establish the dictatorship 
of the proletariat — the masses were still not prepared for 



it. That was why not one of the responsible organisations 
called upon them to establish it. But as a reconnoitring 
operation in the enemy's camp, the July events were of 
enormous significance. The Kornilov revolt 30 and the sub- 
sequent events served as practical lessons and made possible 
the October victory. The mistake committed by those who 
even in October wished to divide power 31 was their failure 
to connect the October victory with the July days, with the 
offensive, with the Kornilov revolt, etc., etc., events which 
caused the millions of the common people to realise that 
Soviet power had become inevitable. Then followed our tri- 
umphal march throughout Russia, accompanied by a uni- 
versal desire for peace. We know that we cannot achieve 
peace by a unilateral withdrawal from the war. We pointed 
to this as far back as the April Conference. 32 In the period 
from April to October, the soldiers clearly realised that the 
policy of collaboration was prolonging the war and was lead- 
ing to the savage, senseless attempts of the imperialists 
to start an offensive and to get still more entangled in a war 
that would last for years. That was the reason why it was 
necessary at all costs to adopt an active policy of peace as 
quickly as possible, why it was necessary for the Soviets to 
take power into their own hands, and abolish landed propri- 
etorship. You know that the latter was upheld not only by 
Kerensky but also by Avksentyev, who even went so far as 
to order the arrest of the members of the Land Committees. 
The policy we adopted, the slogan of "Power to the Soviets", 
which we instilled into the minds of the majority of the 
people, enabled us, in October, to achieve victory very easily 
in St. Petersburg, and transformed the last months of the 
Russian revolution into one continuous triumphal march. 

Civil war became a fact. The transformation of the impe- 
rialist war into civil war, which we had predicted at the 
beginning of the revolution, and even at the beginning of the 
war, and which considerable sections of socialist circles treat- 
ed skeptically and even with ridicule, actually took place 
on October 25, 1917, in one of the largest and most back- 
ward of the belligerent countries. In this civil war the over- 
whelming majority of the population proved to be on our 
side, and that is why victory was achieved with such extraor- 
dinary ease. 



The troops who abandoned the front carried with them 
wherever they went the maximum of revolutionary deter- 
mination to put an end to collaboration; and the collabora- 
tionist elements, the whiteguards and the landowners' sons 
found themselves without support among the population. 
The war against them gradually turned into a victorious 
triumphal march of the revolution as the masses of the 
people and the military units that were sent against us came 
over to the side of the Bolsheviks. We saw this in Petrograd, 
on the Gatchina front, where the Cossacks, whom Kerensky 
and Krasnov tried to lead against the Red capital, wavered; 
we saw this later in Moscow, in Orenburg and in the Ukraine. 
A wave of civil war swept over the whole of Russia, and 
everywhere we achieved victory with extraordinary ease 
precisely because the fruit had ripened, because the masses 
had already gone through the experience of collaboration 
with the bourgeoisie. Our slogan "All Power to the Soviets", 
which the masses had tested in practice by long historical 
experience, had become part of their flesh and blood. 

That is why the Russian revolution was a continuous 
triumphal march in the first months after October 25, 1917. 
As a result of this the difficulties which the socialist revolu- 
tion immediately encountered, and could not but encounter, 
were forgotten, were pushed into the background. One of 
the fundamental differences between bourgeois revolution 
and socialist revolution is that for the bourgeois revolution, 
which arises out of feudalism, the new economic organisa- 
tions are gradually created in the womb of the old order, 
gradually changing all the aspects of feudal society. The 
bourgeois revolution faced only one task — to sweep away, 
to cast aside, to destroy all the fetters of the preceding social 
order. By fulfilling this task every bourgeois revolution ful- 
fils all that is required of it; it accelerates the growth of 

The socialist revolution is in an altogether different posi- 
tion. The more backward the country which, owing to the 
zigzags of history, has proved to be the one to start the 
socialist revolution, the more difficult is it for that country 
to pass from the old capitalist relations to socialist relations. 
New incredibly difficult tasks, organisational tasks, are 
added to the tasks of destruction. Had not the popular 



creative spirit of the Russian revolution, which had gone 
through the great experience of the year 1905, given rise to the 
Soviets as early as February 1917, they could not under any 
circumstances have assumed power in October, because 
success depended entirely upon the existence of available 
organisational forms of a movement embracing millions. The 
Soviets were the available form, and that is why in the polit- 
ical sphere the future held out to us those brilliant successes, 
the continuous triumphal march, that we had; for the 
new form of political power was already available, and all 
we had to do was to pass a few decrees, and transform the 
power of the Soviets from the embryonic state in which it 
existed in the first months of the revolution into the legally 
recognised form which had become established in the Rus- 
sian state — i.e., into the Russian Soviet Republic. The 
Republic was born at one stroke; it was born so easily because 
in February 1917 the masses had created the Soviets even 
before any party had managed to proclaim this slogan. It 
was the great creative spirit of the people, which had passed 
through the bitter experience of 1905 and had been made 
wise by it, that gave rise to this form of proletarian power. 
The task of achieving victory over the internal enemy was 
an extremely easy one. The task of creating the political 
power was an extremely easy one because the masses had 
created the skeleton, the basis of this power. The Republic 
of Soviets was born at one stroke. But two exceedingly diffi- 
cult problems still remained, the solution of which could 
not possibly be the triumphal march we experienced in the 
first months of our revolution — we did not doubt, we could 
not doubt, that the socialist revolution would be later con- 
fronted with enormously difficult tasks. 

First, there was the problem of internal organisation, 
which confronts every socialist revolution. The difference 
between a socialist revolution and a bourgeois revolution is 
that in the latter case there are ready-made forms of capitalist 
relationships; Soviet power — the proletarian power — does not 
inherit such ready-made relationships, if we leave out of ac- 
count the most developed forms of capitalism, which, strictly 
speaking, extended to but a small top layer of industry and 
hardly touched agriculture. The organisation of accounting, 
the control of large enterprises, the transformation of the whole 



of the state economic mechanism into a single huge machine, 
into an economic organism that will work in such a way as to 
enable hundreds of millions of people to be guided by a 
single plan — such was the enormous organisational problem 
that rested on our shoulders. Under the present conditions of 
labour this problem could not possibly be solved by the 
"hurrah" methods by which we were able to solve the prob- 
lems of the Civil War. The very nature of the task prevented 
a solution by these methods. We achieved easy victories 
over the Kaledin 33 revolt and created the Soviet Republic 
in face of a resistance that was not even worth serious con- 
sideration; the course of events was predetermined by the 
whole of the preceding objective development, so that all 
we had to do was say the last word and change the signboard, 
i.e., take down the sign "The Soviet exists as a trade union 
organisation", and put up instead the sign "The Soviet is the 
sole form of state power"; the situation, however, was alto- 
gether different in regard to organisational problems. In 
this field we encountered enormous difficulties. It immediate- 
ly became clear to everyone who cared to ponder over the 
tasks of our revolution that only by the hard and long path 
of self-discipline would it be possible to overcome the 
disintegration that the war had caused in capitalist society, 
that only by extraordinarily hard, long and persistent 
effort could we cope with this disintegration and defeat those 
elements aggravating it, elements which regarded the revo- 
lution as a means of discarding old fetters and getting as 
much out of it for themselves as they possibly could. The 
emergence of a large number of such elements was inevitable 
in a small-peasant country at a time of incredible economic 
chaos, and the fight against these elements that is ahead of 
us, that we have only just started, will be a hundred times 
more difficult, it will be a fight which promises no spectacu- 
lar opportunities. We are only in the first stage of this fight. 
Severe trials await us. The objective situation precludes 
any idea of limiting ourselves to a triumphal march with 
flying banners such as we had in fighting against Kaledin. 
Anyone who attempted to apply these methods of struggle 
to the organisational tasks that confront the revolution would 
only prove his bankruptcy as a politician, as a socialist, as 
an active worker in the socialist revolution. 



The same thing awaited some of our young comrades who 
were carried away by the initial triumphal march of the 
revolution, when it came up against the second enormous 
difficulty — the international question. The reason we achieved 
such an easy victory over Kerensky's gangs, the reason 
we so easily set up our government and without the slightest 
difficulty passed decrees on the socialisation of the land and 
on workers' control, the reason we achieved all this so easily 
was a fortunate combination of circumstances that protected 
us for a short time from international imperialism. Interna- 
tional imperialism, with the entire might of its capital, 
with its highly organised war machine, which is a real force, 
a real stronghold of international capital, could not, under any 
circumstances, under any conditions, live side by side 
with the Soviet Republic, both because of its objective 
position and because of the economic interests of the capitalist 
class embodied in it, because of commercial connections, of 
international financial relations. In this sphere a conflict 
is inevitable. This is the greatest difficulty of the Russian 
revolution, its greatest historical problem — the need to solve 
international problems, the need to evoke a world revolution, 
to effect the transition from our strictly national revolution 
to the world revolution. This problem confronts us in all 
its incredible difficulty. I repeat, very many of our young 
friends who regard themselves as Lefts have begun to forget 
the most important thing: why in the course of the weeks 
and months of the enormous triumph after October we were 
able so easily to pass from victory to victory. And yet 
this was due only to a special combination of international 
circumstances that temporarily shielded us from imperial- 
ism. Imperialism had other things to bother about besides 
us. And it seemed to us that we, too, had other things to 
bother about besides imperialism. Individual imperialists had 
no time to bother with us, solely because the whole of the 
great social, political and military might of modern world 
imperialism was split by internecine war into two groups. 
The imperialist plunderers involved in this struggle had gone 
to such incredible lengths, were locked in mortal combat 
to such a degree, that neither of the groups was able to con- 
centrate any effective forces against the Russian revolution. 
These were the circumstances in which we found ourselves 



in October. It is paradoxical but true that our revolution 
broke out at so fortunate a moment, when unprecedented 
disasters involving the destruction of millions of human 
beings had overtaken most of the imperialist countries, when 
the unprecedented calamities attending the war had exhaust- 
ed the nations, when in the fourth year of the war the bellig- 
erent countries had reached an impasse, a parting of the 
ways, when the question arose objectively — could nations 
reduced to such a state continue fighting? It was only 
because our revolution broke out at so fortunate a moment as 
this, when neither of the two gigantic groups of plunderers 
was in a position immediately either to hurl itself at the 
other, or to unite with the other against us; our revolution 
could (and did) take advantage only of a situation 
such as this in international political and economic 
relations to accomplish its brilliant triumphal march in 
European Russia, spread to Finland and begin to win the 
Caucasus and Rumania. This alone explains the appearance 
of Party functionaries, intellectual supermen, in the lead- 
ing circles of our Party who allowed themselves to be car- 
ried away by this triumphal march and who said we could 
cope with international imperialism; over there, there will 
also be a triumphal march, over there, there will be no 
real difficulties. This was at variance with the objective 
position of the Russian revolution which had merely taken 
advantage of the setback of international imperialism; the 
engine that was supposed to bear down on us with the force 
of a railway train bearing down on a wheelbarrow and smash- 
ing it to splinters, was temporarily stalled — and the engine 
was stalled because the two groups of predators had clashed. 
Here and there the revolutionary movement was growing, 
but in all the imperialist countries without exception it was 
still mainly in the initial stage. Its rate of development was 
entirely different from ours. Anyone who has given careful 
thought to the economic prerequisites of the socialist revo- 
lution in Europe must be clear on the point that in Europe 
it will be immeasurably more difficult to start, whereas it 
was immeasurably more easy for us to start; but it will be 
more difficult for us to continue the revolution than it will 
be over there. This objective situation caused us to experi- 
ence an extraordinarily sharp and difficult turn in history. 



From the continuous triumphal march on our internal front, 
against our counter-revolution, against the enemies of Soviet 
power in October, November and December, we had to pass 
to a collision with real international imperialism, in its 
real hostility towards us. From the period of the triumphal 
march we had to pass to a period in which we were in an 
extraordinarily difficult and painful situation, one which cer- 
tainly could not be brushed aside with words, with brilliant 
slogans — however pleasant that would have been — because 
in our disorganised country we had to deal with incredibly 
weary masses, who had reached a state in which they could 
not possibly go on fighting, who were so shattered by three 
years of agonising war that they were absolutely useless 
from the military point of view. Even before the October 
Revolution we saw representatives of the masses of the sol- 
diers, not members of the Bolshevik Party, who did not 
hesitate to tell the bourgeoisie the truth that the Russian 
army would not fight. This state of the army has brought about 
a gigantic crisis. A small-peasant country, disorganised by 
war, reduced to an incredible state, has been placed in an 
extremely difficult position. We have no army, but we have 
to go on living side by side with a predator who is armed to 
the teeth, a predator who still remains and will continue to 
remain a plunderer and is not, of course, affected by agita- 
tion in favour of peace without annexations and indemnities. 
A tame, domestic animal has been lying side by side with a 
tiger and trying to persuade the latter to conclude a peace 
without annexations and indemnities, although the only way 
such a peace could be attained was by attacking the tiger. 
The top layer of our Party — intellectuals and some of the 
workers' organisations — has been trying in the main to brush 
this prospect aside with phrases and such excuses as "that 
is not the way it should be". This peace was too incredible 
a prospect for them to believe that we, who up to now had 
marched in open battle with colours flying and had stormed 
the enemy's positions with "hurrahs", could yield and accept 
these humiliating terms. Never! We are exceedingly proud 
revolutionaries, we declare above all: "The Germans cannot 
attack." 34 

This was the first argument with which these people con- 
soled themselves. History has now placed us in an extraor- 



dinarily difficult position; in the midst of organisational 
work of unparalleled difficulty we shall have to experience 
a number of painful defeats. Regarded from the world- 
historical point of view, there would doubtlessly be no hope 
of the ultimate victory of our revolution if it were to remain 
alone, if there were no revolutionary movements in other 
countries. When the Bolshevik Party tackled the job alone, 
it did so in the firm conviction that the revolution was matur- 
ing in all countries and that in the end — but not at the very 
beginning — no matter what difficulties we experienced, no 
matter what defeats were in store for us, the world socialist 
revolution would come — because it is coming; would mature — 
because it is maturing and will reach full maturity. I 
repeat, our salvation from all these difficulties is an all- 
Europe revolution. Taking this truth, this absolutely abstract 
truth, as our starting-point, and being guided by it, we must 
see to it that it does not in time become a mere phrase, 
because every abstract truth, if it is accepted without analysis, 
becomes a mere phrase. If you say that every strike conceals 
the hydra of revolution, and he who fails to understand this 
is no socialist, you are right. Yes, the socialist revolution 
looms behind every strike. But if you say that every single 
strike is an immediate step towards the socialist revolution, 
you will be uttering perfectly empty phrases. We have heard 
these phrases "every blessed time in the same place" and 
have got so sick and tired of them that the workers have 
rejected these anarchist phrases, because undoubtedly, clear 
as it is that behind every strike there looms the hydra of 
socialist revolution, it is equally clear that the assertion 
that every strike can develop into revolution is utter non- 
sense. Just as it is indisputable that all the difficulties in our 
revolution will be overcome only when the world socialist 
revolution matures — and it is maturing now everywhere — 
it is absolutely absurd to declare that we must conceal every 
real difficulty of our revolution today and say: "I bank on 
the international socialist movement — I can commit any 
piece of folly I please." "Liebknecht will help us out, because 
he is going to win, anyhow." He will create such an excellent 
organisation, he will plan everything beforehand so well 
that we shall be able to take ready-made forms in the same 
way as we took the ready-made Marxist doctrine from 



Western Europe — and maybe that is why it triumphed in our 
country in a few months, whereas it has been taking decades 
to triumph in Western Europe. Thus it would have been reck- 
less gambling to apply the old method of solving the prob- 
lem of the struggle by a triumphal march to the new histor- 
ical period which has set in, and which has confronted us, 
not with feeble Kerensky and Kornilov, but with an inter- 
national predator — the imperialism of Germany, where the 
revolution has been maturing but has obviously not yet 
reached maturity. The assertion that the enemy would not 
dare attack the revolution was such a gamble. The situation 
at the time of the Brest negotiations 35 was not yet such as 
to compel us to accept any peace terms. The objective align- 
ment of forces was such that a respite would not have been 
enough. It took the Brest negotiations to show that the Ger- 
mans would attack, that German society was not so pregnant 
with revolution that it could give birth to it at once; and we 
cannot blame the German imperialists for not having pre- 
pared that outbreak by their conduct, or, as our young friends 
who regard themselves as Lefts say, for not having creat- 
ed a situation in which the Germans could not attack. When 
we tell them that we have no army, that we were compelled 
to demobilise — we were compelled to do so, although we 
never forgot that a tiger was lying beside our tame, domestic 
animal — they refuse to understand. Although we were com- 
pelled to demobilise we did not for a moment forget that it 
was impossible to end the war unilaterally by issuing an 
order to stick the bayonets in the ground. 

Generally speaking, how is it that not a single trend, not 
a single tendency, not a single organisation in our Party 
opposed this demobilisation? Had we gone mad? Not in 
the least. Officers, not Bolsheviks, had stated even before 
October that the army could not fight, that it could not be 
kept at the front even for a few weeks longer. After October 
this became obvious to everybody who was willing to recog- 
nise the facts, willing to see the unpleasant, bitter reality 
and not hide, or pull his cap over his eyes, and make shift 
with proud phrases. We have no army, we cannot hold it. 
The best thing we can do is to demobilise it as quickly as 
possible. This is the sick part of the organism, which has 
suffered incredible torture, has been ravaged by the priva- 



tions of a war into which it entered technically unprepared, 
and from which it has emerged in such a state that it succumbs 
to panic at every attack. We cannot blame these people who 
have experienced incredible suffering. In hundreds of reso- 
lutions, even in the first period of the Russian revolution, 
the soldiers have said quite frankly: "We are drowning in 
blood, we cannot go on fighting." One could have delayed the 
end of the war artificially, one could have committed the 
frauds Kerensky committed, one could have postponed the 
end for a few weeks, but objective reality broke its own road. 
This is the sick part of the Russian state organism which 
can no longer bear the burden of the war. The quicker we 
demobilise the army, the sooner it will become absorbed by 
those parts that are not so sick and the sooner will the country 
be prepared for new severe trials. That is what we felt when 
we unanimously, without the slightest protest, adopted 
the decision — which was absurd from the point of view of 
foreign events — to demobilise the army. It was the proper 
step to take. We said that it was a frivolous illusion to 
believe that we could hold the army. The sooner we demobi- 
lised the army, the sooner would the social organism as a whole 
recover. That is why the revolutionary phrase, "The Germans 
cannot attack", from which the other phrase ("We can declare 
the state of war terminated. Neither war nor the signing 
of peace.") derived, was such a profound mistake, such a bit- 
ter over-estimation of events. But suppose the Germans do 
attack? "No, they cannot attack." But have you the right 
to risk the world revolution? What about the concrete 
question of whether you may not prove to be accomplices 
of German imperialism when that moment comes? But we, 
who since October 1917 have all become defencists, who 
have recognised the principle of defence of the fatherland, 
we all know that we have broken with imperialism, not 
merely in word but in deed; we have destroyed the secret 
treaties," 36 vanquished the bourgeoisie in our own country 
and proposed an open and honest peace so that all the 
nations may see what our intentions really are. How could 
people who seriously uphold the position of defending the 
Soviet Republic agree to this gamble, which has already 
produced results? And this is a fact, because the severe crisis 
which our Party is now experiencing, owing to the formation 



of a "Left" opposition within it, is one of the gravest crises 
the Russian revolution has experienced. 

This crisis will be overcome. Under no circumstances will 
it break the neck of our Party, or of our revolution, although 
at the present moment it has come very near to doing so, 
there was a possibility of it. The guarantee that we shall 
not break our neck on this question is this: instead of applying 
the old method of settling factional differences, the old 
method of issuing an enormous quantity of literature, of 
having many discussions and plenty of splits, instead of 
this old method, events have provided our people with a 
new method of learning things. This method is to put every- 
thing to the test of facts, events, the lessons of world history. 
You said that the Germans could not attack. The logic of 
your tactics was that we could declare the state of war to 
be terminated. History has taught you a lesson, it has shat- 
tered this illusion. Yes, the German revolution is growing, 
but not in the way we should like it, not as fast as Russian 
intellectuals would have it, not at the rate our history 
developed in October — when we entered any town we liked, 
proclaimed Soviet power, and within a few days nine-tenths 
of the workers came over to our side. The German revolution 
has the misfortune of not moving so fast. What do you think? 
Must we reckon with the revolution, or must the revolution 
reckon with us? You wanted the revolution to reckon with 
you. But history has taught you a lesson. It is a lesson, 
because it is the absolute truth that without a German 
revolution we are doomed — perhaps not in Petrograd, not in 
Moscow, but in Vladivostok, in more remote places to which 
perhaps we shall have to retreat, and the distance to which 
is perhaps greater than the distance from Petrograd to Mos- 
cow. At all events, under all conceivable circumstances, 
if the German revolution does not come, we are doomed. 
Nevertheless, this does not in the least shake our conviction 
that we must be able to bear the most difficult position 
without blustering. 

The revolution will not come as quickly as we expected. 
History has proved this, and we must be able to take this 
as a fact, to reckon with the fact that the world socialist 
revolution cannot begin so easily in the advanced countries 
as the revolution began in Russia — in the land of Nicholas 



and Rasputin, the land in which an enormous part of the 
population was absolutely indifferent as to what peoples 
were living in the outlying regions, or what was happening 
there. In such a country it was quite easy to start a revolu- 
tion, as easy as lifting a feather. 

But to start without preparation a revolution in a country 
in which capitalism is developed and has given democratic 
culture and organisation to everybody, down to the last 
man — to do so would be wrong, absurd. There we are 
only just approaching the painful period of the beginning 
of socialist revolutions. This is a fact. We do not know, 
no one knows, perhaps — it is quite possible — it will 
triumph within a few weeks, even within a few days, but 
we cannot stake everything on that. We must be prepared 
for extraordinary difficulties, for extraordinarily severe 
defeats, which are inevitable because the revolution in 
Europe has not yet begun, although it may begin tomorrow; 
and when it does begin, then, of course, we shall not be 
tortured by doubts, there will be no question about a revo- 
lutionary war, but just one continuous triumphal march. 
That is to come, it will inevitably be so, but it is not so 
yet. This is the simple fact that history has taught us, with 
which it has hit us very painfully — and it is said a man 
who has been thrashed is worth two who haven't. That is 
why I think that now history has given us a very painful 
thrashing, because of our hope that the Germans could not 
attack and that we could get everything by shouting "hurrah!", 
this lesson, with the help of our Soviet organisations, will 
be very quickly brought home to the masses all over Soviet 
Russia. They are all up and doing, gathering, preparing 
for the Congress, passing resolutions, thinking over what 
has happened. What is taking place at the present time does 
not resemble the old pre-revolutionary controversies, which 
remained within narrow Party circles; now all decisions are 
submitted for discussion to the masses, who demand that 
they be tested by experience, by deeds, who never allow 
themselves to be carried away by frivolous speeches, and 
never allow themselves to be diverted from the path pre- 
scribed by the objective progress of events. Of course, an 
intellectual, or a Left Bolshevik, can try to talk his way 
out of difficulties. He can try to talk his way out of such 



facts as the absence of an army and the failure of the revo- 
lution to begin in Germany. The millions-strong masses — 
and politics begin where millions of men and women are; 
where there are not thousands, but millions, that is where 
serious politics begin — the masses know what the army is 
like, they have seen soldiers returning from the front. They 
know — that is, if you take, not individual persons, but 
real masses — that we cannot fight, that every man at the 
front has endured everything imaginable. The masses have 
realised the truth that if we have no army, and a predator 
is lying beside us, we shall have to sign a most harsh, humil- 
iating peace treaty. That is inevitable until the birth of 
the revolution, until you cure your army, until you allow 
the men to return home. Until then the patient will not 
recover. And we shall not be able to cope with the German 
predator by shouting "hurrah!"; we shall not be able to throw 
him off as easily as we threw off Kerensky and Kornilov. 
This is the lesson the masses have learned without the ex- 
cuses that certain of those who desire to evade bitter reality 
have tried to present them with. 

At first a continuous triumphal march in October and 
November — then, suddenly, in the space of a few weeks, the 
Russian revolution is defeated by the German predator; the 
Russian revolution is prepared to accept the terms of a 
predatory treaty. Yes, the turns taken by history are very 
painful. All such turns affect us painfully. When, in 1907, 
we signed the incredibly shameful internal treaty with Sto- 
lypin, when we were compelled to pass through the pigsty 
of the Stolypin Duma and assumed obligations by signing 
scraps of monarchist paper, 37 we experienced what we are 
experiencing now but on a smaller scale. At that time, 
people who were among the finest in the vanguard of the revolu- 
tion said (and they too had not the slightest doubt that they 
were right), "We are proud revolutionaries, we believe in 
the Russian revolution, we will never enter legal Stolypin 
institutions." Yes, you will, we said. The life of the masses, 
history, are stronger than your protestations. If you won't 
go, we said, history will compel you to. These were very 
Left people and after the first turn in history nothing 
remained of them as a group but smoke. Just as we proved 
able to remain revolutionaries, proved able to work under 



terrible conditions and emerge from them, so shall we emerge 
now because it is not our whim, it is objective inevita- 
bility that has arisen in an utterly ruined country, because 
in spite of our desires the European revolution dared to be 
late, and in spite of our desires German imperialism dared 
to attack. 

Here one must know how to retreat. We cannot hide the 
incredibly bitter, deplorable reality from ourselves with 
empty phrases; we must say: God grant that we retreat in 
what is half-way good order. We cannot retreat in good 
order, but God grant that our retreat is half-way good order, 
that we gain a little time in which the sick part of our 
organism can be absorbed at least to some extent. On the whole 
the organism is sound, it will overcome its sickness; But you 
cannot expect it to overcome it all at once, instantaneously; 
you cannot stop an army in flight. When I said to one of 
our young friends, a would-be Left, "Comrade, go to the 
front, see what is going on in the army", he took offence 
at this proposal. He said, "They want to banish us so as to 
prevent our agitating here for the great principles of a 
revolutionary war." In making this proposal I really had no 
intention whatever of banishing factional enemies; I merely 
suggested that they go and see for themselves that the army 
had begun to run away in an unprecedented manner. We knew 
that even before this, even before this we could not close our 
eyes to the fact that the disintegration of the army had gone 
on to such an unheard-of extent that our guns were being 
sold to the Germans for a song. We knew this, just as we 
know that the army cannot be held back, and the argument 
that the Germans would not attack was a great gamble. 
If the European revolution is late in coming, gravest defeats 
await us because we have no army, because we lack organi- 
sation, because, at the moment, these are two problems we 
cannot solve. If you are unable to adapt yourself, if you are 
not inclined to crawl on your belly in the mud, you are not a 
revolutionary but a chatterbox; and I propose this, not 
because I like it, but because we have no other road, because 
history has not been kind enough to bring the revolution to 
maturity everywhere simultaneously. 

The way things are turning out is that the civil war has 
begun as an attempt at a clash with imperialism, and this 



has shown that imperialism is rotten to the core, and that 
proletarian elements are rising in every army. Yes, we shall 
see the world revolution, but for the time being it is a very 
good fairy-tale, a very beautiful fairy-tale — I quite under- 
stand children liking beautiful fairy-tales. But I ask, is it 
proper for a serious revolutionary to believe in fairy-tales? 
There is an element of reality in every fairy-tale. If you told 
children fairy-tales in which the cock and the cat did not 
converse in human language they would not be interested. 
In the same way, if you tell the people that civil war will 
break out in Germany and also guarantee that instead of a 
clash with imperialism we shall have a field revolution on a 
world-wide scale, 38 the people will say you are deceiving them. 
In doing this you will be overcoming the difficulties with 
which history has confronted us only in your own minds, 
by your own wishes. It will be a good thing if the German 
proletariat is able to take action. But have you measured 
it, have you discovered an instrument that will show that 
the German revolution will break out on such-and-such a 
day? No, you do not know that, and neither do we. You 
are staking everything on this card. If the revolution breaks 
out, everything is saved. Of course! But if it does not turn 
out as we desire, if it does not achieve victory tomorrow — 
what then? Then the masses will say to you, you acted like 
gamblers — you staked everything on a fortunate turn of 
events that did not take place, you proved unfitted for the 
situation that actually arose instead of the world revolution, 
which will inevitably come, but which has not yet reached 

A period has set in of severe defeats, inflicted by imperial- 
ism, which is armed to the teeth, upon a country which has 
demobilised its army, which had to demobilise. What I 
predicted has come to pass; instead of the Brest peace we have 
a much more humiliating peace, and the blame for this 
rests upon those who refused to accept the former peace. 
We knew that through the fault of the army we were conclud- 
ing peace with imperialism. We sat at the table beside 
Hoffmann and not Liebknecht 39 — and in doing so we assisted 
the German revolution. But now you are assisting Ger- 
man imperialism, because you have surrendered wealth 
valued at millions in guns and shells; and anybody who had 



seen the state — the incredible state — of the army could 
have predicted this. Everyone of integrity who came from 
the front said that had the Germans made the slightest 
attack we should have perished inevitably and absolutely. 
We should have fallen prey to the enemy within a few days. 

Having been taught this lesson, we shall overcome our 
split, our crisis, however severe the disease may be, because 
an immeasurably more reliable ally will come to our assist- 
ance — the world revolution. When the ratification of this 
Peace of Tilsit, this unbelievable peace, more humiliating 
and predatory than the Brest peace, is spoken of, I say: 
certainly, yes. We must do this because we look at things 
from the point of view of the masses. Any attempt to apply 
the tactics applied internally in one country between Octo- 
ber and November — the triumphant period of the revolution — 
to apply them with the aid of our imagination to the pro- 
gress of events in the world revolution, is doomed to failure. 
When it is said that the respite is a fantasy, when a newspa- 
per called Kommunist — from the word "Commune", I sup- 
pose — when this paper fills column after column with 
attempts to refute the respite theory, I say that I have lived 
through quite a lot of factional conflicts and splits and so 
I have a great deal of experience; and I must say that it is 
clear to me that this disease will not be cured by the old 
method of factional Party splits because events will cure it 
more quickly. Life is marching forward very quickly. In 
this respect it is magnificent. History is driving its locomo- 
tive so fast that before the editors of Kommunist bring out 
their next issue the majority of the workers in Petrograd 
will have begun to be disappointed in its ideas, because events 
are proving that the respite is a fact. We are now signing 
a peace treaty, we have a respite, we are taking advantage 
of it the better to defend our fatherland — because had we 
been at war we should have had an army fleeing in panic 
which would have had to be stopped, and which our comrades 
cannot and could not stop, because war is more powerful 
than sermons, more powerful than ten thousand arguments. 
Since they did not understand the objective situation they 
could not hold back the army, and cannot do so. This sick 
army infected the whole organism, and another unparalleled 
defeat was inflicted upon us. German imperialism struck 



another blow at the revolution, a severe blow, because we 
allowed ourselves to face the blows of imperialism without 
machine-guns. Meanwhile, we shall take advantage of this 
breathing-space to persuade the people to unite and fight, 
to say to the Russian workers and peasants: "Organise self- 
discipline, strict discipline, otherwise you will have to 
remain lying under the German jackboot as you are lying now, 
as you will inevitably have to lie until the people learn to 
fight and to create an army capable, not of running away, 
but of bearing untold suffering." It is inevitable, because the 
German revolution has not yet begun, and we cannot 
guarantee that it will come tomorrow. 

That is why the respite theory, which is totally rejected 
in the flood of articles in Kommunist, is advanced by reality. 
Everyone can see that the respite is a fact, that everyone is 
taking advantage of it. We believed that we would lose 
Petrograd in a few days when the advancing German troops 
were only a few days' march away, and when our best sail- 
ors and the Putilov workers, 40 notwithstanding all their 
great enthusiasm, remained alone, when incredible chaos 
and panic broke out, which compelled our troops to flee 
all the way to Gatchina, and when we had cases of positions 
being recaptured that had never been lost — by a telegraph 
operator, arriving at the station, taking his place at the key 
and wiring, "No Germans in sight. We have occupied the 
station." A few hours later I received a telephone communi- 
cation from the Commissariat of Railways informing me, 
"We have occupied the next station. We are approaching 
Yamburg. No Germans in sight. Telegraph operator at his 
post." That is the kind of thing we had. This is the real his- 
tory of the eleven days' war. 41 It was described to us by sail- 
ors and Putilov workers, who ought to be brought to the 
Congress of Soviets. Let them tell the truth. It is a fright- 
fully bitter, disappointing, painful and humiliating truth, 
but it is a hundred times more useful, it can be understood 
by the Russian people. 

One may dream about the field revolution on a world- 
wide scale, for it will come. Everything will come in due 
time; but for the time being, set to work to establish 
self-discipline, subordination before all else, so that we can 
have exemplary order, so that the workers for at least one 



hour in twenty-four may train to fight. This is a little more 
difficult than relating beautiful fairy-tales. This is what 
we can do today; in this way you will help the German 
revolution, the world revolution. We do not know how many 
days the respite will last, but we have got it. We must 
demobilise the army as quickly as possible, because it is a sick 
organ; meanwhile, we will assist the Finnish revolution. 42 
Yes, of course, we are violating the treaty; we have vio- 
lated it thirty or forty times. Only children can fail to under- 
stand that in an epoch like the present, when a long painful 
period of emancipation is setting in, which has only just 
created and raised the Soviet power three stages in its 
development — only children can fail to understand that in 
this case there must be a long, circumspect struggle. The 
shameful peace treaty is rousing protest, but when com- 
rades from Kommunist talk about war they appeal to senti- 
ment and forget that the people are clenching their fists with 
rage, are "seeing red". What do they say? "A class-conscious 
revolutionary will never live through this, will never sub- 
mit to such a disgrace." Their newspaper bears the title 
Kommunist, but it should bear the title Szlachcic* because 
it looks at things from the point of view of the szlachcic 
who, dying in a beautiful pose, sword in hand, said: "Peace 
is disgraceful, war is honourable." They argue from the point 
of view of the szlachcic; I argue from the point of view of the 

If I accept peace when the army is in flight, and must 
be in flight if it is not to lose thousands of men, I accept 
it in order to prevent things from getting worse. Is the 
treaty really shameful? Why, every sober-minded peasant 
and worker will say I am right, because they understand 
that peace is a means of gathering forces. History knows — 
I have referred to it more than once — the case of the liberation 
of the Germans from Napoleon after the Peace of Tilsit. 
I deliberately called the peace a Peace of Tilsit although 
we did not undertake to do what had been stipulated in that 
treaty, we did not undertake to provide troops to assist 
the victor to conquer other nations — things like that have 
happened in history, and will happen to us if we continue 

Szlachcic — a Polish nobleman — Ed. 



to place our hopes in the field revolution on a world-wide 
scale. Take care that history does not impose upon you 
this form of military slavery as well. And before the social- 
ist revolution is victorious in all countries the Soviet 
Republic may be reduced to slavery. At Tilsit, Napoleon com- 
pelled the Germans to accept incredibly disgraceful peace 
terms. That peace had to be signed several times. The Hoff- 
mann of those days — Napoleon — time and again caught the 
Germans violating the peace treaty, and the present 
Hoffmann will catch us at it. Only we shall take care that 
he does not catch us soon. 

The last war has been a bitter, painful, but serious lesson 
for the Russian people. It has taught them to organise, to 
become disciplined, to obey, to establish a discipline that 
will be exemplary. Learn discipline from the Germans; for, 
if we do not, we, as a people, are doomed, we shall live in 
eternal slavery. 

This way, and no other, has been the way of history. His- 
tory tells us that peace is a respite for war, war is a means 
of obtaining a somewhat better or somewhat worse peace. 
At Brest the relation of forces corresponded to a peace im- 
posed upon the one who has been defeated, but it was not a 
humiliating peace. The relation of forces at Pskov corre- 
sponded to a disgraceful, more humiliating peace; and in 
Petrograd and Moscow, at the next stage, a peace four times 
more humiliating will be dictated to us. We do not say that 
the Soviet power is only a form, as our young Moscow friends 43 
have said, we do not say that the content can be sacrificed 
for this or that revolutionary principle. We do say, let the 
Russian people understand that they must become disci- 
plined and organised, and then they will be able to withstand 
all the Tilsit peace treaties. The whole history of wars of 
liberation shows that when these wars involved large masses 
liberation came quickly. We say, since history marches 
forward in this way, we shall have to abandon peace for war, 
and this may happen within the next few days. Everyone 
must be prepared. I have not the slightest shadow of doubt 
that the Germans are preparing near Narva, if it is true that 
it has not been taken, as all the newspapers say; if not in 
Narva, then near Narva, if not in Pskov, then near Pskov, 
the Germany are grouping their regular army, making ready 



their railways, to capture Petrograd at the next jump. And 
this beast can jump very well. He has proved that. He will 
jump again. There is not a shadow of doubt about that. That 
is why we must be prepared, we must not brag, but must be 
able to take advantage of even a single day of respite, 
because we can take advantage of even one day's respite to 
evacuate Petrograd, the capture of which will cause unprece- 
dented suffering to hundreds of thousands of our proletarians. 
I say again that I am ready to sign, and that I consider it 
my duty to sign, a treaty twenty times, a hundred times more 
humiliating, in order to gain at least a few days in which 
to evacuate Petrograd, because by that I will alleviate the 
sufferings of the workers, who otherwise may fall under the 
yoke of the Germans; by that I facilitate the removal from 
Petrograd of all the materials, gunpowder, etc., which 
we need; because I am a defencist, because I stand for the 
preparation of an army, even in the most remote rear, where 
our present, demobilised, sick army is being healed. 

We do not know how long the respite will last — we will 
try to take advantage of the situation. Perhaps the respite 
will last longer, perhaps it will last only a few days. Any- 
thing may happen, no one knows, or can know, because all 
the major powers are bound, restricted, compelled to fight on 
several fronts. Hoffmann's behaviour is determined first 
by the need to smash the Soviet Republic; secondly, by the 
fact that he has to wage war on a number of fronts, and third- 
ly, by the fact that the revolution in Germany is maturing, 
is growing, and Hoffmann knows this. He cannot, as some 
assert, take Petrograd and Moscow this very minute. But 
he may do so tomorrow, that is quite possible. I repeat that 
at a moment when the army is obviously sick, when we are 
taking advantage of every opportunity, come what may, to get 
at least one day's respite, we say that every serious revolu- 
tionary who is linked with the masses and who knows what 
war is, what the masses are, must discipline the masses, 
must heal them, must try to arouse them for a new war — every 
such revolutionary will admit that we are right, will admit 
that any disgraceful peace is proper, because it is in the 
interests of the proletarian revolution and the regeneration of 
Russia, because it will help to get rid of the sick organ. As 
every sensible man understands, by signing this peace treaty 



we do not put a stop to our workers' revolution; everyone 
understands that by concluding peace with the Germans we 
do not stop rendering military aid; we are sending arms to 
the Finns, but not military units, which turn out to be unfit. 

Perhaps we will accept war; perhaps tomorrow we will 
surrender even Moscow and then go over to the offensive; 
we will move our army against the enemy's army if the 
necessary turn in the mood of the people takes place. This 
turn is developing and perhaps much time is required, but 
it will come, when the great mass of the people will not say 
what they are saying now. I am compelled to accept the 
harshest peace terms because I cannot say to myself that 
this time has arrived. When the time of regeneration arrives 
everyone will realise it, will see that the Russian is no fool; 
he sees, he will understand that for the time being we must 
refrain, that this slogan must be carried through — and this 
is the main task of our Party Congress and of the Congress 
of Soviets. 

We must learn to work in a new way. That is immensely 
more difficult, but it is by no means hopeless. It will not 
break Soviet power if we do not break it ourselves by utterly 
senseless adventurism. The time will come when the people 
will say, we will not permit ourselves to be tortured any 
longer. But this will take place only if we do not agree to 
this adventure but prove able to work under harsh conditions 
and under the unprecedentedly humiliating treaty we signed 
the other day, because a war, or a peace treaty, cannot solve 
such a historical crisis. Because of their monarchic organi- 
sation the German people were fettered in 1807, when after 
several humiliating peace treaties, which were transformed 
into respites to be followed by new humiliations and new 
infringements, they signed the Peace of Tilsit. The Soviet 
organisation of the people makes our task easier. 

We should have but one slogan — to learn the art of war 
properly and put the railways in order. To wage a socialist 
revolutionary war without railways would be rank treachery. 
We must produce order and we must produce all the ener- 
gy and all the strength that will produce the best that is in 
the revolution. 

Grasp even an hour's respite if it is given you, in order to 
maintain contact with the remote rear and there create new 



armies. Abandon illusions for which real events have punished 
you and will punish you more severely in the future. An 
epoch of most grievous defeats is ahead of us, it is with us 
now, we must be able to reckon with it, we must be prepared 
for persistent work in conditions of illegality, in conditions 
of downright slavery to the Germans; it is no use painting 
it in bright colours, it is a real Peace of Tilsit. If we are able 
to act in this way, then, in spite of defeats, we shall be able 
to say with absolute certainty — victory will be ours. 





Comrades, let me begin with some relatively minor 
remarks, let me begin from the end. At the end of his speech 
Comrade Bukharin went so far as to compare us to Petlyura. 
If he thinks that is so, how can he remain with us in the same 
party? Isn't it just empty talk? If things were really as he 
said, we should not, of course, be members of the same 
party. The fact that we are together shows that we are ninety 
per cent in agreement with Bukharin. It is true he added a 
few revolutionary phrases about our wanting to betray the 
Ukraine. I am sure it is not worth while talking about such 
obvious nonsense. I shall return to Comrade Ryazanov, and 
here I want to say that in the same way as an exception that 
occurs once in ten years proves the rule, so has Comrade 
Ryazanov chanced to say a serious word. (Applause.) He 
said that Lenin was surrendering space to gain time. That 
is almost philosophical reasoning. This time it happened 
that we heard from Comrade Ryazanov a serious phrase — 
true it is only a phrase — which fully expresses the case; to 
gain time I want to surrender space to the actual victor. 
That and that alone is the whole point at issue. All else is 
mere talk — the need for a revolutionary war, rousing the 
peasantry, etc. When Comrade Bukharin pictures things as 
though there could not be two opinions as to whether war is 
possible and says — "ask any soldier" (I wrote down his actual 
words) — since he puts the question this way and wants to 
ask any soldier, I'll answer him. "Any soldier" turned out 
to be a French officer that I had a talk with. That French 



officer looked at me, with anger in his eyes, of course — had 
I not sold Russia to the Germans? — and said: "I am a royal- 
ist, I am also a champion of the monarchy in France, a 
champion of the defeat of Germany, so don't think I support 
Soviet power — who would, if he was a royalist? — but I favour 
your signing the Brest Treaty because it's necessary." 44 
That's "asking any soldier" for you. Any soldier would say 
what I have said — we had to sign the Brest Treaty. If it now 
emerges from Bukharin's speech that our differences have 
greatly diminished, it is only because his supporters have 
concealed the chief point on which we differ. 

Now that Bukharin is thundering against us for having 
demoralised the masses, he is perfectly correct, except 
that it is himself and not us that he is attacking. Who 
caused this mess in the Central Committee? — You, Comrade 
Bukharin. {Laughter.) No matter how much you shout "No", 
the truth will out; we are here in our own comradely family, 
we are at our own Congress, we have nothing to hide, the 
truth must be told. And the truth is that there were three 
trends in the Central Committee. On February 17 Lomov and 
Bukharin did not vote. I have asked for the record of the voting 
to be reproduced and copies made so that every Party mem- 
ber who wishes to do so can go into the secretariat and see 
how people voted — the historic voting of January 21, which 
shows that they wavered and we did not, not in the least; 
we said, "Let us accept the Brest peace — you'll get nothing 
better — so as to prepare for a revolutionary war". Now we 
have gained five days in which to evacuate Petrograd. Now 
the manifesto signed by Krylenko and Podvoisky 45 has been 
published, they were not among the Lefts, and Bukharin 
insulted them by saying that Krylenko had been "dragged 
in", as though we had invented what Krylenko reported. We 
agree in full with what they said; that is how matters stand, 
for it was these army men who gave proof of what I had said; 
and you dismiss the matter by saying the Germans won't 
attack. How can this situation be compared with October, 
when the question of equipment did not arise? If you want 
to take facts into consideration, then consider this one — that 
the disagreement arose over the statement that we cannot start 
a war that is obviously to our disadvantage. When Comrade 
Bukharin began his concluding speech with the thunderous 



question "Is war possible in the near future?" he greatly 
surprised me. I answer without hesitation — yes, it is possible, 
but today we must accept peace. There is no contradic- 
tion in this. 

After these brief remarks I shall give detailed answers 
to previous speakers. As far as Radek is concerned I must 
make an exception. But there was another speech, that of 
Comrade Uritsky. What was there in that speech apart from 
Canossa, 46 "treachery", "retreated", "adapted"? What is 
all this about? Haven't you borrowed your criticism from a 
Left Socialist-Revolutionary newspaper? Comrade Bubnov 
read us a statement submitted to the Central Committee by 
those of its members who consider themselves very Left- 
wing and who gave us a striking example of a demonstra- 
tion before the eyes of the whole world — "the behaviour of 
the Central Committee strikes a blow at the international 
proletariat". Is that anything but an empty phrase? "Demon- 
strate weakness before the eyes of the whole world!" How 
are we demonstrating? By proposing peace? Because our 
army has run away? Have we not proved that to begin war 
with Germany at this moment, and not to accept the Brest 
peace, would mean showing the world that our army is sick 
and does not want to give battle? Bubnov's statement was 
quite empty when he asserted that the wavering was entirely 
of our making — it was due to our army's being sick. Sooner 
or later, there had to be a respite. If we had had the 
correct strategy we should have had a month's breathing- 
space, but since your strategy was incorrect we have only 
five days — even that is good. The history of war shows that 
even days are sometimes enough to halt a panic-stricken 
army. Anyone who does not accept, does not conclude this 
devilish peace now, is a man of empty phrases and not a 
strategist. That is the pity of it. When Central Committee 
members write to me about "demonstrations of weakness", 
"treachery", they are writing the most damaging, empty, 
childish phrases. We demonstrated our weakness by attempt- 
ing to fight at a time when the demonstration should not 
have been made, when an offensive against us was inevitable. 
As for the peasants of Pskov, we shall bring them to the 
Congress of Soviets to relate how the Germans treat people, 
so that they can change the mood of the soldier in panic- 



stricken night and he will begin to recover from his panic 
and say, "This is certainly not the war the Bolsheviks prom- 
ised to put an end to, this is a new war the Germans are 
waging against Soviet power." Then recovery will come. 
But you raise a question that cannot be answered. Nobody 
knows how long the respite will last. 

Now I must say something about Comrade Trotsky's 
position. There are two aspects to his activities; when he 
began the negotiations at Brest and made splendid use of 
them for agitation, we all agreed with Comrade Trotsky. He 
has quoted part of a conversation with me, but I must add that 
it was agreed between us that we would hold out until the 
Germans presented an ultimatum, and then we would give 
way. The Germans deceived us — they stole five days out 
of seven from us. 47 Trotsky's tactics were correct as long as 
they were aimed at delaying matters; they became incorrect 
when it was announced that the state of war had been termi- 
nated but peace had not been concluded. I proposed quite 
definitely that peace be concluded. We could not have got 
anything better than the Brest peace. It is now clear to every- 
body that we would have had a month's respite and that 
we would not have lost anything. Since history has swept 
that away it is not worth recalling, but it is funny to hear 
Bukharin say, "Events will show that we were right." I was 
right because I wrote about it back in 1915 — "We must pre- 
pare to wage war, it is inevitable, it is coming, it will come."* 
But we had to accept peace and not try vain blustering. And 
because war is coming, it was all the more necessary to 
accept peace, and now we are at least making easier the eva- 
cuation of Petrograd — we have made it, easier. That is a 
fact. And when Comrade Trotsky makes fresh demands; "Prom- 
ise not to conclude peace with Vinnichenko", I say that 
under no circumstances will I take that obligation upon 
myself. 48 If the Congress accepts this obligation, neither I, nor 
those who agree with me, will accept responsibility for it. It 
would mean tying our hands again with a formal decision 
instead of following a clear line of manoeuvre — retreat 
when possible, and at times attack. In war you must never 

See present edition, Vol. 21, p. 404.— Ed. 



tie yourself down with formal decisions. It is ridiculous 
not to know the history of war, not to know that a treaty 
is a means of gathering strength — I have already mentioned 
Prussian history. There are some people who are just like 
children, they think that if we have signed a treaty we have 
sold ourselves to Satan and have gone to hell. That is simply 
ridiculous when it is quite obvious from the history of war 
that the conclusion of a treaty after defeat is a means of 
gathering strength. There have been cases in history of one 
war following immediately after another, we have all for- 
gotten that, we see that the old war is turning into....* If 
you like, you can bind yourselves for ever with formal deci- 
sions and then hand over all the responsible posts to the Left 
Socialist-Revolutionaries. 49 We shall not accept responsi- 
bility for it. There is not the least desire for a split here. 
I am sure that events will teach you — March 12 is not far 
away, and you will obtain plenty of material. 50 

Comrade Trotsky says that it will be treachery in the full 
sense of the word. I maintain that that is an absolutely wrong 
point of view. To demonstrate this concretely, I will give 
you an example: two men are walking together and are 
attacked by ten men, one fights and the other runs away — that 
is treachery; but suppose we have two armies of a hundred 
thousand each and there are five armies against them; one 
army is surrounded by two hundred thousand, and the other 
must go to its aid; knowing that the other three hundred 
thousand of the enemy are ambushed to trap it, should the 
second army go to the aid of the first? It should not. That 
is not treachery, that is not cowardice; a simple increase in 
numbers has changed all concepts, any soldier knows this; 
it is no longer a personal concept. By acting in this way I 
preserve my army; let the other army be captured, I shall 
be able to renew mine, I have allies, I shall wait till the 
allies arrive. That is the only way to argue; when military 
arguments are mixed up with others, you get nothing but 
empty phrases. That is not the way to conduct 

We have done everything that could be done. By signing 
the treaty we have saved Petrograd, even if only for a few 

Several words are missing in the verbatim report. — Ed. 



days. (The secretaries and stenographers should not think 
of putting that on record.) The treaty requires us to with- 
draw our troops from Finland, troops that are clearly no good, 
but we are not forbidden to take arms into Finland. If 
Petrograd had fallen a few days ago, the city would have 
been in a panic and we should not have been able to take 
anything away; but in those five days we have helped our 
Finnish comrades — how much I shall not say, they know it 

The statement that we have betrayed Finland is just a 
childish phrase. We helped the Finns precisely by retreating 
before the Germans in good time. Russia will never perish 
just because Petrograd falls. Comrade Bukharin is a thousand 
times right in that, but if we manoeuvre in Bukharin's 
way we may ruin a good revolution. (Laughter.) 

We have not betrayed either Finland or the Ukraine. No 
class-conscious worker would accuse us of this. We are help- 
ing as best we can. We have not taken one good man away 
from our army and shall not do so. You say that Hoffmann 
will catch us — of course he may, I do not doubt it, but how 
many days it will take him, he does not know and nobody 
knows. Furthermore, your arguments about his catching 
us are arguments about the political alignment of forces, 
of which I shall speak later. 

Now that I have explained why I am absolutely unable 
to accept Trotsky's proposal — you cannot conduct politics 
in that way — I must say that Radek has given us an example 
of how far the comrades at our Congress have departed from 
empty phrases such as Uritsky still sticks to. I certainly 
cannot accuse him of empty phrases in that speech. He said, 
"There is not a shadow of treachery, not a shadow of disgrace, 
because it is clear that you retreated in the face of overpower- 
ing military force." That is an appraisal that destroys 
Trotsky's position. When Radek said, "We must grit our 
teeth and prepare our forces," he was right — I agree with 
that in full — don't bluster, grit your teeth and make prepa- 

Grit your teeth, don't bluster and muster your forces. The 
revolutionary war will come, there is no disagreement on 
this; the difference of opinion is on the Peace of Tilsit — 
should we conclude it or not? The worst of it is that we have a 



sick army, and the Central Committee, therefore, must have 
a firm line and not differences of opinion or the middle line 
that Comrade Bukharin also supported. I am not painting 
the respite in bright colours; nobody knows how long it 
will last and I don't know. The efforts that are being made 
to force me to say how long it will last are ridiculous. As 
long as we hold the main lines we are helping the Ukraine 
and Finland. We are taking advantage of the respite, 
manoeuvring and retreating. 

The German worker cannot now be told that the Russians 
are being awkward, for it is now clear that German and 
Japanese imperialism is attacking — it will be clear to every- 
body; apart from a desire to strangle the Bolsheviks, the 
Germans also want to do some strangling in the West, every- 
thing is all mixed up, and in this war we shall have to 
and must be able to manoeuvre. 

With regard to Comrade Bukharin's speech, I must say 
that when he runs short of arguments he puts forward some- 
thing in the Uritsky manner and says, "The treaty 
disgraces us." Here no arguments are needed; if we have been 
disgraced we should collect our papers and run, but, 
although we have been "disgraced", I do not think our position 
has been shaken. Comrade Bukharin attempted to analyse 
the class basis of our position, but instead of doing so told 
us an anecdote about a deceased Moscow economist. When 
you discovered some connection between our tactics and food 
speculation — this was really ridiculous — you forgot that 
the attitude of the class as a whole, the class, and not the 
food speculators, shows that the Russian bourgeoisie and 
their hangers-on — the Dyelo Naroda and Novaya Zhizn 
writers — are bending all their efforts to goad us on to war. 
You do not stress that class fact. To declare war on Germany 
at the moment would be to fall for the provocation of the 
Russian bourgeoisie. That is not new because it is the 
surest — I do not say absolutely certain, because nothing is 
absolutely certain — the surest way of getting rid of us today. 
When Comrade Bukharin said that events were on their side, 
that in the long run we would recognise revolutionary war, 
he was celebrating an easy victory since we prophesied the 
inevitability of a revolutionary war in 1915. Our differences 
were on the following — would the Germans attack or not; 



that we should have declared the state of war terminated; 
that in the interests of revolutionary war we should have to 
retreat, surrendering territory to gain time. Strategy and 
politics prescribe the most disgusting peace treaty imagi- 
nable. Our differences will all disappear once we recognise 
these tactics. 





The Congress recognises the necessity to confirm the 
extremely harsh, humiliating peace treaty with Germany 
that has been concluded by Soviet power in view of our lack 
of an army, in view of the most unhealthy state of the demor- 
alised army at the front, in view of the need to take advan- 
tage of any, even the slightest, possibility of obtaining a 
respite before imperialism launches its offensive against the 
Soviet Socialist Republic. 

In the present period of the era that has begun, the era 
of the socialist revolution, numerous military attacks on 
Soviet Russia by the imperialist powers (both from the West 
and from the East) are historically inevitable. The histori- 
cal inevitability of such attacks at a time when both inter- 
nal, class relations and international relations are extremely 
tense, can at any moment, even immediately, within the 
next few days, lead to fresh imperialist aggressive wars 
against the socialist movement in general and against the 
Russian Socialist Soviet Republic in particular. 

The Congress therefore declares that it recognises the pri- 
mary and fundamental task of our Party, of the entire van- 
guard of the class-conscious proletariat and of Soviet power, 
to be the adoption of the most energetic, ruthlessly determined 
and Draconian measures to improve the self-discipline 
and discipline of the workers and peasants of Russia, to 
explain the inevitability of Russia's historic advance towards 
a socialist, patriotic war of liberation, to create everywhere 
soundly co-ordinated mass organisations held together by 
a single iron will, organisations that are capable of concerted, 
valorous action in their day-to-day efforts and especially 



at critical moments in the life of the people, and, lastly, to 
train systematically and comprehensively in military mat- 
ters and military operations the entire adult population of 
both sexes. 

The Congress considers the only reliable guarantee of 
consolidation of the socialist revolution that has been vic- 
torious in Russia to be its conversion into a world working- 
class revolution. 

The Congress is confident that the step taken by Soviet 
power in view of the present alignment of forces in the world 
arena was, from the standpoint of the interests of the world 
revolution, inevitable and necessary. 

Confident that the working-class revolution is maturing 
persistently in all belligerent countries and is preparing the 
full and inevitable defeat of imperialism, the Congress 
declares that the socialist proletariat of Russia will support 
the fraternal revolutionary movement of the proletariat of 
all countries with all its strength and with every means at 
its disposal. 

First published on January 1, 1919 
in the newspaper Kommunar No. 1 

Published according to 
the newspaper text, 
collated with the manuscript 






Comrades, in my speech I have already said that neither 
I nor those who support me consider it possible to accept 
this amendment. We must in no way bind our hands 
in any strategic manoeuvre. Everything depends on the 
relationship of forces and the time of the attack against us 
by these or those imperialist countries, the time when the 
rehabilitation of our army, which is undoubtedly beginning 
reaches the point when we shall be in a position and obliged 
not merely to refrain from concluding peace but to declare 
war. Instead of the amendments which Comrade Trotsky 
proposes, I am ready to accept the following: 

First, to say — and this I shall certainly uphold — that 
the present resolution is not to be published in the press 
but that a communication should be made only about the 
ratification of the treaty. 

Secondly, in the forms of publication and content the 
Central Committee shall have the right to introduce changes 
in connection with a possible offensive by the Japanese. 

Thirdly, to say that the Congress will empower the C.C. 
of the Party both to break all the peace treaties and to 
declare war on any imperialist power or the whole world when 
the C.C. of the Party considers that the appropriate moment 
for this has come. 

We must give the C.C. full power to break the treaties at 
any moment but this does not in any way imply that we 
shall break them just now, in the situation that exists today. 



At the present time we must not bind our hands in any way. 
The words that Comrade Trotsky proposes to introduce 
will gain the votes of those who are against ratification in 
general, votes for a middle course which will create afresh 
a situation in which not a single worker, not a single soldier, 
will understand anything in our resolution. 

At the present time we shall endorse the necessity of rati- 
fying the treaty and we shall empower the Central Commit- 
tee to declare war at any moment, because an attack against 
us is being prepared, perhaps from three sides; Britain or 
France wants to take Archangel from us — it is quite possible 
they will, but in any case we ought not to hamper our central 
institution in any way, whether in regard to breaking the 
peace treaty or in regard to declaring war. We are giving 
financial aid to the Ukrainians, we are helping them in so 
far as we can. In any case we must not bind ourselves to not 
signing any peace treaty. In an epoch of growing wars, com- 
ing one after the other, new combinations grow up. The 
peace treaty is entirely a matter of vital manoeuvring — 
either we stand by this condition of manoeuvring or we for- 
mally bind our hands in advance in such a way that it will 
be impossible to move; neither making peace nor waging 
war will be possible. 


It seems to me that I have said: no, I cannot accept this. 
This amendment makes a hint, it expresses what Comrade 
Trotsky wants to say. There should be no hints in the reso- 

The first point says that we accept ratification of the treaty, 
considering it essential to utilise every, even the smallest, 
possibility of a breathing-space before imperialism attacks 
the Soviet Socialist Republic. In speaking of a breathing- 
space, we do not forget that an attack on our Republic is 
still going on. There you have my opinion, which I stressed 
in my reply to the debate. 





I am unable to give an immediate answer to Comrade 
Radek's polemic 53 — since I am not voting, I cannot give 
grounds for my vote. According to the usual procedure, 
I cannot reply; I do not want to hold up the Congress by 
requesting to be given the floor in order to reply to this po- 
lemic. I merely remind you, therefore, of what was said in 
my reply to the debate and, secondly, register my protest 
against a speech on grounds for voting being turned into 
a polemic to which I am not in a position to reply. 






The Congress deems it essential not to publish the resolution 
that has been adopted and requires of all Party members 
that they keep this resolution secret. The only communi- 
cation to be made to the press — and that not today but on 
the instructions of the Central Committee — will be that the 
Congress is in favour of ratification. 

Furthermore, the Congress lays special stress on the 
authority granted to the Central Committee to denounce at 
any moment all peace treaties concluded with imperialist 
and bourgeois states, and also to declare war on them. 

Published according to 
the manuscript 






I think, comrades, that there is no need for this amend- 
ment which Comrade Zinoviev has moved. 54 I hope that 
only members of the Party are in the hall; in view of the 
state importance of the question, I think that we can adopt 
a decision to take the personal signature of everyone 
present in this hall. 

This is by no means a superfluous measure; we are in condi- 
tions in which military secrets become very important ques- 
tions, the most essential questions, for the Russian Republic. 
If we say in the press that the Congress has decided on rati- 
fication there cannot be any misunderstanding. I only pro- 
pose that this should not be voted on just now because there 
may be changes: further information should reach us today. 
We have taken special measures to obtain information from 
the North-East and the South — this news may cause some 
change. Since the Congress agrees that we must manoeuvre 
in the interests of a revolutionary war — will even empower 
the Central Committee to declare war — it is obvious that 
we have the agreement of both sections of the Party on this; 
the dispute was only over whether or not to continue the 
war without any respite. I consider that in moving this 
amendment I am saying something indisputable for the 
majority and for the opposition; I think that there cannot 
be any other interpretations. I consider it more practical 
merely to confirm that it must be kept secret. And in addi- 
tion, to adopt supplementary measures and on this account 
to take the personal signature of each person present in the 






In view of the fact that the resolution has been distrib- 
uted, can we not at once adopt a decision that everyone who 
has received a copy should bring it to this table immediately? 
That is one means of preserving a military secret. 


I ask for the vote to be taken. Our Party centres consist 
of adult people who will understand that communications 
containing a military secret are made orally. Therefore 
I absolutely insist that all texts of the resolution in anyone's 
possession shall immediately be put on the table here. 





Comrades, as you know, a fairly comprehensive Party 
discussion on changing the name of the Party has developed 
since April 1917 and the Central Committee has therefore 
been able to arrive at an immediate decision that will 
probably not give rise to considerable dispute — there may 
even be practically none at all; the Central Committee pro- 
poses to you that the name of our Party be changed to the 
Russian Communist Party, with the word "Bolsheviks" 
added to it in brackets. We all recognise the necessity for 
this addition because the word "Bolshevik" has not only 
acquired rights of citizenship in the political life of Russia 
but also throughout the entire foreign press, which in a general 
way keeps track of events in Russia. It has already been 
explained in our press that the name "Social-Democratic 
Party" is scientifically incorrect. When the workers set up 
their own state they realised that the old concept of democ- 
racy — bourgeois democracy — had been surpassed in the 
process of the development of our revolution. We have arrived 
at a type of democracy that has never existed anywhere 
in Western Europe. It has its prototype only in the Paris 
Commune, and Engels said with regard to the Paris 
Commune that it was not a state in the proper sense of the 
word. 56 In short, since the working people themselves are 
undertaking to administer the state and establish armed 
forces that support the given state system, the special 
government apparatus is disappearing, the special appa- 
ratus for a certain state coercion is disappearing, and we 
cannot therefore uphold democracy in its old form. 



On the other hand, as we begin socialist reforms we must 
have a clear conception of the goal towards which these 
reforms are in the final analysis directed, that is, the creation 
of a communist society that does not limit itself to the 
expropriation of factories, the land and the means of produc- 
tion, does not confine itself to strict accounting for, and 
control of, production and distribution of products, but goes 
farther towards implementing the principle "From each 
according to his ability, to each according to his needs". 
That is why the name of Communist Party is the only one 
that is scientifically correct. The objection that it may 
cause us to be confused with the anarchists was immediate- 
ly rejected by the Central Committee on the grounds that 
the anarchists never call themselves simply Communists 
but always add something to that name. In this respect we 
may mention the many varieties of socialism, but they do 
not cause the confusion of the Social-Democrats with social- 
reformers, or national socialists, or any similar parties. 

On the other hand, the most important argument in fa- 
vour of changing the name of the Party is that up to now the 
old official socialist parties in all the leading European 
countries have still not got rid of their intoxication with 
social-chauvinism and social-patriotism that led to the com- 
plete collapse of European official socialism during the 
present war, so that up to now almost all official socialist par- 
ties have been a real hindrance to the working-class revolu- 
tionary socialist movement, a real encumbrance to it. And 
our Party, which at the present time undoubtedly enjoys 
the greatest sympathy of the masses of the working people 
of all countries — our Party must make the most decisive, 
sharp, clear and unambiguous statement that is possible to 
the effect that it has broken off connections with that old 
official socialism, for which purpose a change in the name 
of the Party will be the most effective means. 

Further, comrades, the much more difficult question was 
that of the theoretical part of the Programme and of its 
practical and political part. As far as the theoretical part 
of the Programme is concerned, we have some material — 
the Moscow and Petrograd symposia on the review of the 
Programme, which have been published 57 ; the two main 
theoretical organs of our Party, Prosveshcheniye 5S published 



in Petrograd, and Spartak 59 published in Moscow, have 
carried articles substantiating certain trends in changing 
the theoretical part of the Programme of our Party. In 
this sphere we have a certain amount of material. Two 
main points of view are to be seen which, in my opinion, 
do not diverge, at any rate radically, on matters of principle; 
one point of view, the one I defended, is that we have no 
reason to reject the old theoretical part of our Programme, 
and that it would be actually incorrect to do so. We have 
only to add to it an analysis of imperialism as the highest 
stage of the development of capitalism and also an analysis 
of the era of the socialist revolution, proceeding from the 
fact that the era of the socialist revolution has begun. 
Whatever may be the fate of our revolution, of our contin- 
gent of the international proletarian army, whatever may 
be the future complications of the revolution, the objective 
situation of the imperialist countries embroiled in a war 
that has reduced the most advanced countries to starvation, 
ruin and barbarity, that situation, in any case, is hopeless. 
And here I must repeat what Frederick Engels said thirty 
years ago, in 1887, when appraising the probable prospects 
of a European war. He said that crowns would lie around 
in Europe by the dozen and nobody would want to pick 
them up; he said that incredible ruin would fall to the lot 
of the European countries, and that there could be only one 
outcome to the horrors of a European war — he put it this 
way — "either the victory of the working class or the creation 
of conditions that would make that victory possible and 
necessary". 60 Engels expressed himself on this score with 
exceptional precision and caution. Unlike those people who 
distort Marxism and offer their belated pseudo-philosophis- 
ing about socialism being impossible in conditions of ruin, 
Engels realised full well that every war, even in an advanced 
society, would create not only devastation, barbarity, tor- 
ment, calamities for the masses, who would drown in blood, 
and that there could be no guarantee that it would lead to 
the victory of socialism; he said it would be "either the 
victory of the working class or the creation of conditions that 
would make that victory possible and necessary", i.e., 
that there was, consequently, the possibility of a number of 
difficult stages of transition in view of the tremendous 



destruction of culture and the means of production, but that 
the result could be only the rise of the working class, the 
vanguard of all working people, and the beginning of its taking 
over power into its own hands for the creation of a socialist 
society. For no matter to what extent culture has been 
destroyed, it cannot be removed from history; it will be dif- 
ficult to restore but no destruction will ever mean the com- 
plete disappearance of that culture. Some part of it, some 
material remains of that culture will be indestructible, the 
difficulties will be only in restoring it. There you have one 
point of view — that we must retain the old Programme and 
add to it an analysis of imperialism and of the beginning of 
the social revolution. 

I expressed that point of view in the draft Programme 
that I have published.* Another draft was published by Com- 
rade Sokolnikov in the Moscow symposium. The second 
point of view has been expressed in our private conversa- 
tions, in particular by Comrade Bukharin, and by Comrade 
V. Smirnov in the press, in the Moscow symposium. This 
point of view is that the old theoretical part of our Programme 
should be completely or almost completely eliminated and 
replaced by a new part that does not analyse the develop- 
ment of commodity production and capitalism, as the 
present Programme does, but analyses the contemporary, 
highest stage of capitalist development — imperialism — and 
the immediate transition to the epoch of the social revolu- 
tion. I do not think that these two points of view diverge 
radically and in principle, but I shall defend my point of 
view. It seems to me that it would be theoretically incorrect 
to eliminate the old programme that analyses the develop- 
ment from commodity production to capitalism. There 
is nothing incorrect in it. That is how things were and how 
they are, for commodity production begot capitalism and 
capitalism led to imperialism. Such is the general historical 
perspective, and the fundamentals of socialism should not 
be forgotten. No matter what the further complications of 
the struggle may be, no matter what occasional zigzags we 
may have to contend with (there will be very many of them — 
we have seen from experience what gigantic turns the history 

See present edition, Vol. 24, pp. 459-63.— Ed. 



of the revolution has made, and so far it is only in our own 
country; matters will be much more complicated and proceed 
much more rapidly, the rate of development will be more 
furious and the turns will be more intricate when the revolution 
becomes a European revolution) — in order not to lose our 
way in these zigzags, these sharp turns in history, in order 
to retain the general perspective, to be able to see the scarlet 
thread that joins up the entire development of capitalism 
and the entire road to socialism, the road we naturally imag- 
ine as straight, and which we must imagine as straight in 
order to see the beginning, the continuation and the end — in 
real life it will never be straight, it will be incredibly involved 
— in order not to lose our way in these twists and turns, 
in order not to get lost at times when we are taking steps 
backward, times of retreat and temporary defeat or when 
history or the enemy throws us back — in order not to get lost, 
it is, in my opinion, important not to discard our old, basic 
Programme; the only theoretically correct line is to retain 
it. Today we have reached only the first stage of transition 
from capitalism to socialism here in Russia. History has 
not provided us with that peaceful situation that was theo- 
retically assumed for a certain time, and which is desirable 
for us, and which would enable us to pass through these 
stages of transition speedily. We see immediately that the 
civil war has made many things difficult in Russia, and 
that the civil war is interwoven with a whole series of 
wars. Marxists have never forgotten that violence must 
inevitably accompany the collapse of capitalism in its 
entirety and the birth of socialist society. That violence 
will constitute a period of world history, a whole era of various 
kinds of wars, imperialist wars, civil wars inside countries 
the intermingling of the two, national wars liberating the 
nationalities oppressed by the imperialists and by various 
combinations of imperialist powers that will inevitably 
enter into various alliances in the epoch of tremendous 
state-capitalist and military trusts and syndicates. This 
epoch, an epoch of gigantic cataclysms, of mass decisions 
forcibly imposed by war, of crises, has begun — that we can 
see clearly — and it is only the beginning. We therefore have 
no reason to discard everything bearing on the definition 
of commodity production in general, of capitalism in gen- 



eral. We have only just taken the first steps towards shaking 
off capitalism altogether and beginning the transition to 
socialism. We do not know and we cannot know how many 
stages of transition to socialism there will be. That depends 
on when the full-scale European socialist revolution begins 
and on whether it will deal with its enemies and enter 
upon the smooth path of socialist development easily and 
rapidly or whether it will do so slowly. We do not know this, 
and the programme of a Marxist party must be based on 
facts that have been established with absolute certainty. 
The power of our Programme — the programme that has found 
its confirmation in all the complications of the revolution — 
is in that alone. Marxists must build up their programme 
on this basis alone. We must proceed from facts that have 
been established with absolute certainty, facts that show 
how the development of exchange and commodity production 
became a dominant historical phenomenon throughout the 
world, how it led to capitalism and capitalism developed 
into imperialism; that is an absolutely definite fact that 
must first and foremost be recorded in our Programme. 
That imperialism begins the era of the social revolution 
is also a fact, one that is obvious to us, and about which 
we must speak clearly. By stating this fact in our Programme 
we are holding high the torch of the social revolution before 
the whole world, not as an agitational speech, but as a new 
Programme that says to the peoples of Western Europe, 
"Here is what you and we have gathered from the experience 
of capitalist development. This is what capitalism was, 
this is how it developed into imperialism, and here is the 
epoch of the social revolution that is beginning, and in which 
it is our lot to play, chronologically, the first role." We 
shall proclaim this manifesto before all civilised countries; 
it will not only be a fervent appeal but will be substan- 
tiated with absolute accuracy and will derive from facts 
recognised by all socialist parties. It will make all the 
clearer the contradiction between the tactics of those parties 
that have now betrayed socialism and the theoretical 
premises which we all share, and which have entered the 
flesh and blood of every class-conscious worker — the rise of 
capitalism and its development into imperialism. On the 
eve of imperialist wars the congresses at Chemnitz and Basle 



passed resolutions defining imperialism, and there is a flagrant 
contradiction between that definition and the present 
tactics of the social-traitors. 61 We must, therefore, repeat 
that which is basic in order to show the working people of 
Western Europe all the more clearly what we accuse their 
leaders of. 

Such is the basis which I consider to be the only theoret- 
ically correct one on which to build a programme. The 
abandoning of the analysis of commodity production and 
capitalism as though it were old rubbish is not dictated 
by the historical nature of what is now happening, since we 
have not gone farther than the first steps in the transition 
from capitalism to socialism, and our transition is made 
more intricate by features that are specific to Russia and 
do not exist in most civilised countries. And so it is not 
only possible but inevitable that the stages of transition 
will be different in Europe; it would be theoretically incorrect 
to turn all attention to specific national stages of transition 
that are essential to us but may not be essential in Europe. 
We must begin with the general basis of the development of 
commodity production, the transition to capitalism and the 
growth of capitalism into imperialism. In this way we 
shall occupy and strengthen a theoretical position from 
which nobody without betraying socialism can shift us. From 
this we draw the equally inevitable conclusion — the era of 
the social revolution is beginning. 

We draw this conclusion without departing from our 
basis of definitely proved facts. 

Following this, our task is to define the Soviet type of state. 
I have tried to outline theoretical views on this question in 
my book The State and Revolution* It seems to me that the 
Marxist view on the state has been distorted in the highest 
degree by the official socialism that is dominant in Western 
Europe, and that this has been splendidly confirmed by the 
experience of the Soviet revolution and the establishment of 
the Soviets in Russia. There is much that is crude and unfin- 
ished in our Soviets, there is no doubt about that, it is obvious 
to everyone who examines their work; but what is impor- 

See present edition, Vol. 25, pp. 385-497. —Ed. 



tant, has historical value and is a step forward in the world 
development of socialism, is that they are a new type of 
state. The Paris Commune was a matter of a few weeks, 
in one city, without the people being conscious of what they 
were doing. The Commune was not understood by those who 
created it; they established the Commune by following the 
unfailing instinct of the awakened people, and neither of 
the groups of French socialists was conscious of what 
it was doing. Because we are standing on the shoulders 
of the Paris Commune and the many years of development of 
German Social-Democracy, we have conditions that enable 
us to see clearly what we are doing in creating Soviet power. 
Despite all the crudity and lack of discipline that exist 
in the Soviets — this is a survival of the petty-bourgeois nature 
of our country — despite all that the new type of state has 
been created by the masses of the people. It has been function- 
ing for months and not weeks, and not in one city, but 
throughout a tremendous country, populated by several 
nations. This type of Soviet power has shown its value since 
it has spread to Finland, a country that is different in every 
respect, where there are no Soviets but where there is, at 
any rate, a new type of power, proletarian power. 62 This is, 
therefore, proof of what is theoretically regarded as indis- 
putable — that Soviet power is a new type of state without 
a bureaucracy, without police, without a regular army, 
a state in which bourgeois democracy has been replaced 
by a new democracy, a democracy that brings to the fore the 
vanguard of the working people, gives them legislative and 
executive authority, makes them responsible for military 
defence and creates state machinery that can re-educate the 

In Russia this has scarcely begun and has begun badly. 
If we are conscious of what is bad in what we have begun 
we shall overcome it, provided history gives anything like 
a decent time to work on that Soviet power. I am therefore 
of the opinion that a definition of the new type of state 
should occupy an outstanding place in our Programme. 
Unfortunately we had to work on our Programme in the midst 
of governmental work and under conditions of such great 
haste that we were not even able to convene our commission, 
to elaborate an official draft programme. What has been 



distributed among the delegates is only a rough sketch,* 
and this will be obvious to everyone. A fairly large amount 
of space has been allotted in it to the question of Soviet 
power, and I think that it is here that the international 
significance of our Programme will make itself felt. I think 
it would be very wrong of us to confine the international 
significance of our revolution to slogans, appeals, demonstra- 
tions, manifestos, etc. That is not enough. We must show 
the European workers exactly what we have set about, how 
we have set about it, how it is to be understood; that will 
bring them face to face with the question of how socialism 
is to be achieved. They must see for themselves — the Rus- 
sians have started on something worth doing; if they are 
setting about it badly we must do it better. For that purpose 
we must provide as much concrete material as possible and 
say what we have tried to create that is new. We have a new 
type of state in Soviet power; we shall try to outline its 
purpose and structure, we shall try to explain why this 
new type of democracy in which there is so much that 
is chaotic and irrational, to explain what makes up its living 
spirit — the transfer of power to the working people, the 
elimination of exploitation and the machinery of suppression. 
The state is the machinery of suppression. The exploiters must 
be suppressed, but they cannot be suppressed by police, they 
must be suppressed by the masses themselves, the machinery 
must be linked with the masses, must represent them as the 
Soviets do. They are much closer to the masses, they provide 
an opportunity to keep closer to the masses, they provide 
greater opportunities for the education of those masses. We 
know very well that the Russian peasant is anxious to learn; 
and we want him to learn, not from books, but from his own 
experience. Soviet power is machinery, machinery that will 
enable the masses to begin right away learning to govern the 
state and organise production on a nation-wide scale. It is a 
task of tremendous difficulty. It is, however, historically 
important that we are setting about its fulfilment, and not only 
from the point of view of our one country; we are calling upon 
European workers to help. We must give a concrete expla- 
nation of our Programme from precisely that common point 

See this volume, pp. 152-58.— Ed. 



of view. That is why we consider it a continuation of the 
road taken by the Paris Commune. That is why we are con- 
fident that the European workers will be able to help once 
they have entered on that path. They will do what we are 
doing, but do it better, and the centre of gravity will shift 
from the formal point of view to the concrete conditions. 
In the old days the demand for freedom of assembly was 
a particularly important one, whereas our point of view on 
freedom of assembly is that nobody can now prevent meet- 
ings, and Soviet power has only to provide premises for 
meetings. General proclamations of broad principles are 
important to the bourgeoisie: "All citizens have freedom to 
assemble, but they must assemble in the open, we shall not 
give them premises." But we say: "Fewer empty phrases, 
and more substance." The palaces must be expropriated — not 
only the Taurida Palace, but many others as well — and we 
say nothing about freedom of assembly. That must be 
extended to all other points in the democratic programme. We 
must be our own judges. All citizens must take part in the 
work of the courts and in the government of the country. 
It is important for us to draw literally all working people 
into the government of the state. It is a task of tremendous 
difficulty. But socialism cannot be implemented by a minor- 
ity, by the Party. It can be implemented only by tens of 
millions when they have learned to do it themselves. We 
regard it as a point in our favour that we are trying to help 
the masses themselves set about it immediately, and not to 
learn to do it from books and lectures. If we state these 
tasks of ours clearly and definitely we shall thereby give an 
impetus to the discussion of the question and its practical 
presentation by the European masses. We are perhaps 
making a bad job of what has to be done, but we are urging 
the masses to do what they have to. If what our revolution 
is doing is not accidental (and we are firmly convinced that 
it is not), if it is not the product of a Party decision but the 
inevitable product of any revolution that Marx called 
"popular", i.e., a revolution that the masses themselves 
create by their slogans, their efforts and not by a repetition of 
the programme of the old bourgeois republic — if we present 
matters in this way, we shall have achieved the most 
important thing. And here we come to the question of whether 



we should abolish the difference between the maximum and 
minimum programmes. Yes and no. I do not fear this abo- 
lition, because the viewpoint we held in summer should 
no longer exist. I said then, when we still had not taken 
power, that it was "too soon", but now that we have taken 
power and tested it, it is not too soon.* In place of the old 
Programme we must now write a new Programme of Soviet 
power and not in any way reject the use of bourgeois parli- 
amentarism. It is a utopia to think that we shall not be 
thrown back. 

It cannot be denied historically that Russia has created 
a Soviet Republic. We say that if ever we are thrown back, 
while not rejecting the use of bourgeois parliamentarism — 
if hostile class forces drive us to that old position — we 
shall aim at what has been gained by experience, at Soviet 
power, at the Soviet type of state, at the Paris Commune 
type of state. That must be expressed in the Programme. In 
place of the minimum programme, we shall introduce the 
Programme of Soviet power. A definition of the new type 
of state must occupy an important place in our Programme. 

It is obvious that we cannot elaborate a programme at 
the moment. We must work out its basic premises and hand 
them over to a commission or to the Central Committee for 
the elaboration of the main theses. Or still more simply — 
the elaboration is possible on the basis of the resolution on 
the Brest-Litovsk Conference, which has already provided 
theses.** Such a definition of Soviet power should be given 
on the basis of the experience of the Russian revolution, 
and followed by a proposal for practical reforms. I think 
it is here, in the historical part, that mention should be made 
that the expropriation of the land and of industrial enter- 
prises has begun. 63 Here we shall present the concrete task 
of organising distribution, unifying the banks into one 
universal type and converting them into a network of state 
institutions covering the whole country and providing us 
with public book-keeping, accounting and control carried 
out by the population itself and forming the foundation for 
further socialist steps. I think that this part, being the most 

See present edition, Vol. 26, pp. 169-73.— Ed. 
See this volume, pp. 118-19.— Ed. 



difficult, should be formulated as the concrete demands of 
our Soviet power — what we want to do at the moment, what 
reforms we intend to carry out in the sphere of banking 
policy, the organisation of production, the organisation of 
exchange, accountancy and control, the introduction of 
labour conscription, etc. When we are able to, we shall add 
what great or small measures or half-measures we have 
taken in that direction. Here we must state with absolute preci- 
sion and clarity what has been begun and what has not been 
completed. We know full well that a large part of what 
has been begun has not been completed. Without any exag- 
geration, with full objectivity, without departing from the 
facts, we must state in our Programme what we have done 
and what we want to do. We shall show the European pro- 
letariat this truth and say, this must be done, so that they 
will say, such-and-such things the Russians are doing badly 
but we shall do them better. When this urge reaches the masses 
the socialist revolution will be invincible. The imperial- 
ist war is proceeding before the eyes of all people, a war 
that is nothing but a war of plunder. When the imperialist 
war exposes itself in the eyes of the world and becomes a war 
waged by all the imperialists against Soviet power, against 
socialism, it will give the proletariat of the West yet another 
push forward. That must be revealed, the war must be de- 
scribed as an alliance of the imperialists against the socialist 
movement . These are the general considerations that I 
think should be shared with you, and on the basis of which 
I now make the practical proposal to exchange basic views 
on that question and then, perhaps, elaborate a few funda- 
mental theses here on the spot, and, if that should be found 
difficult, give up the idea and hand the question of the 
Programme over to the Central Committee or to a special 
commission that will be instructed, on the basis of the 
material available and of the shorthand or secretaries' detailed 
reports of the Congress, to draw up a Programme for the 
Party, which must immediately change its name. I am of 
the opinion that we can do this at the present time, and I 
think everybody will agree that with our Programme in the 
editorially unprepared state in which events found it, there 
is nothing else we can do. I am sure we can do this in a few 
weeks. We have a sufficient number of theoreticians in all 



the trends of our Party to obtain a programme in a few 
weeks. There may be much that is erroneous in it, of course, 
to say nothing of editorial and stylistic inaccuracies, 
because we have not got months in which to settle down to 
it with the composure that is necessary for editorial 

We shall correct all these errors in the course of our work 
in the full confidence that we are giving Soviet power an 
opportunity to implement the programme. If we at least 
state precisely, without departing from reality, that Soviet 
power is a new type of state, a form of the dictatorship of 
the proletariat, that we present democracy with different 
tasks, that we have translated the tasks of socialism from a 
general abstract formula — "the expropriation of the expro- 
priators" — into such concrete formulas as the nationalisation 
of the banks 64 and the land, that will be an important part 
of the Programme. 

The land question must be reshaped so that we can see 
in it the first steps of the small peasantry wanting to take 
the side of the proletariat and help the socialist revolution, 
see how the peasants, for all their prejudices and all their 
old convictions, have set themselves the practical task of 
the transition to socialism. This is a fact, although we shall 
not impose it on other countries. The peasantry have shown, 
not in words but by their deeds, that they wish to help and 
are helping the proletariat that has taken power to put 
socialism into effect. It is wrong to accuse us of wanting to 
introduce socialism by force. We shall divide up the land 
justly, mainly from the point of view of the small farm. In 
doing this we give preference to communes and big labour 
co-operatives. 65 We support the monopolising of the grain 
trade. We support, the peasantry have said, the confiscation 
of banks and factories. We are prepared to help the workers 
in implementing socialism. I think a fundamental law on 
the socialisation of the land should be published in all 
languages. This will be done, if it has not been done al- 
ready. 66 That is an idea we shall state concretely in the 
Programme — it must be expressed theoretically without 
departing one single step from concretely established facts. 
It will be done differently in the West. Perhaps we are mak- 
ing mistakes, but we hope that the proletariat of the West 



will correct them. And we appeal to the European proletariat 
to help us in our work. 

In this way we can work out our Programme in a few 
weeks, and the mistakes we make will be corrected as time 
goes on — we shall correct them ourselves. Those mistakes 
will be as light as feathers compared with the positive results 
that will be achieved. 





The Congress resolves that our Party (the Russian Social- 
Democratic Labour Party of Bolsheviks) be named hence- 
forth the Russian Communist Party, with the word "Bol- 
sheviks" added in brackets. 

The Congress resolves to change the Programme of our 
Party, re-editing the theoretical part or adding to it a 
definition of imperialism and the era of the international 
socialist revolution that has begun. 

Following this, the change in the political part of our 
Programme must consist in the most accurate and compre- 
hensive definition possible of the new type of state, the So- 
viet Republic, as a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat 
and as a continuation of those achievements of the world 
working-class revolution which the Paris Commune began. 
The Programme must show that our Party does not reject 
the use even of bourgeois parliamentarism, should the course 
of the struggle push us back, for a time, to this historical 
stage which our revolution has now passed. But in any case 
and under all circumstances the Party will strive for a 
Soviet Republic as the highest, from the standpoint of 
democracy, type of state, as a form of the dictatorship of the 
proletariat, of abolition of the exploiters' yoke and of sup- 
pression of their resistance. 

The economic, including agrarian, and educational and 
other parts of our Programme must be recast in the same 
spirit and direction. The centre of gravity must be a precise 
definition of the economic and other reforms begun by our 
Soviet power, with a definite statement of the immediate 

gyuSt /OUJ nyf* (fee 6d./°«fy>» 

*U«t*i MyiiJM, 'U^f* 


'''^a^/luUt ^^W*^ 'h^us^fiute^ 

First page of the manuscript 
of Lenin's "Resolution on 
Changing the Name of the Party 
and the Party Programme". 
March 1918 



definite tasks which Soviet power has set itself, and which 
proceed from the practical steps we have already taken 
towards expropriating the expropriators. 

The Congress instructs the special commission to compile, 
with the utmost urgency, a programme for our Party based 
on the points laid down and to have it approved as the 
Programme of our Party. 

Pravda No. 45, 
March 9, 1918 

Published according to 
the manuscript 





Comrades, allow me to read the draft of a resolution 
which formulates a somewhat different proposal, but which 
in substance is somewhat similar to what the last speaker 
has said. 67 I request the Congress's attention to the follow- 
ing resolution. (He reads it.)* 

Comrades, the distinguishing feature of this proposal is 
that I want first of all to defend my idea of accelerating the 
publication of the Programme and directly instruct the 
Central Committee to publish it or set up a special commis- 

The tempo of development is so furious that we ought 
not to delay. In view of the difficulties of the present time, 
we shall have a programme in which there will be many 
mistakes, but that does not matter — the next Congress will 
correct it, even if it is a too rapid correction of the Pro- 
gramme; but events move so swiftly that if it is necessary 
to make a series of alterations to the Programme, we shall 
make them. Our Programme now will be constructed not 
so much according to the books as from practice, from the 
experience of Soviet power. Accordingly, I believe that it 
is in our interests to approach the international proletariat 
not with ardent appeals, not with exhortatory speeches at 
meetings, not with shouts, but with the precise, concrete 
Programme of our Party. Let the Programme be less sat- 
isfactory than one which would result from being worked 

See this volume, pp. 140-41.— Ed. 



on in a number of commissions and endorsed by the Con- 

I venture to hope that we shall pass this resolution unan- 
imously because I have avoided the disagreement to which 
Comrade Bukharin has referred; I have formulated it in 
such a way as to leave the question open. We can hope 
that if too great changes do not occur we shall be in a position 
to have a new programme which will be a precise document 
for the All-Russia Party, and shall not be in the nasty 
position in which I found myself when at the last Congress 
one of the Left Swedes asked me: "But what is the programme 
of your Party — is it the same as that of the Mensheviks?" 68 
You ought to have seen the expression of surprise on the face 
of this Swede, who fully understood how immensely far we 
had gone away from the Mensheviks. We cannot allow such 
a monstrous contradiction to remain. I think that this will 
be of practical benefit to the international working-class 
movement, and that what we shall gain will undoubtedly 
outweigh the fact that the programme will have mistakes. 
That is why I propose that this be accelerated, without 
being in the least afraid of the Congress having to correct it. 





Under the conditions in which Russia is at present — in 
a state of civil war, of being cut up into parts — this is 
impermissible. It goes without saying that if it is at all 
possible the commission which will make corrections will 
print them immediately, and on each occasion the local 
organisations will be able to express their opinion and must 
do so, but formally to bind ourselves to do something that 
cannot be carried out in the near future will entail still 
greater delay than a congress. 





Comrades, I agree with Comrade Larin that the change 
of title and the dropping of the term Labour Party, will 
certainly be made use of, but that should not worry us. 
If we were to reckon with every drawback, we should be im- 
mersed in trifles. What we are doing is to return to a good 
old model that is known throughout the world. We all know 
the Manifesto of the Communist Party, 10 the whole world 
knows it; the purpose of the correction is not to state that 
the proletariat is the only class which is revolutionary to 
the end, and that all other classes, including the working 
peasantry, can be revolutionary only in so far as they come 
over to the point of view of the proletariat. That is so 
fundamental, such a world-renowned thesis of the Communist 
Manifesto, that there cannot be any honest misunderstandings 
here, and as for dishonest ones, there is no keeping up with 
false interpretations in any case. That is why we must 
return now to the old, good, undoubtedly correct model 
which has played its part in history, spreading to all 
countries, to the whole world; I think that there are no 
grounds for departing from this best of all models. 





I think that the last speaker is wrong. 71 The masses are 
not children and they understand that the struggle is 
extremely serious. They saw how we were thrown back pre- 
viously, for example in July. It is impossible to delete these 
words. We ought not in any way to give the impression that 
we attach absolutely no value to bourgeois parliamentary 
institutions. They are a huge advance on what preceded them. 
By rejecting these words we create an impression of some- 
thing that does not yet exist — of the absolute stability of 
the stage achieved. We know that this is not so yet. It 
will be so when the international movement gives its support. 
I am ready to delete the words "under no circumstances"; 
it is possible to leave the words "the Party will not reject the 
use", but we cannot leave the way open for a purely anarchist 
denial of bourgeois parliamentarism. These are stages 
directly linked one with another, and any repulse can throw 
us back to that stage. I do not consider that this would cause 
the masses to be despondent. If by the masses we mean people 
who are politically quite uneducated — they will not 
understand, but the Party members and sympathisers will 
understand, they will realise that we do not regard the 
positions won as definitely consolidated. If by a gigantic 
effort of will we arouse the energy of all classes, and consol- 
idate this position, then we shall cease to recall the past. 
But that requires the support of Europe. But to say now 
that we may work under worse circumstances will not result 
in any despondency among the masses. 






I cannot agree at all to Comrade Bukharin's amendment. 
The Programme characterises imperialism and the era of 
social revolution that has begun. The era of social revolu- 
tion has begun — this has been established with absolute 
accuracy. What, however, does Comrade Bukharin want? — 
That we should give a description of socialist society in 
its developed form, i.e., communism. Here he is inaccurate. 
At present we certainly uphold the state and to say we 
should give a description of socialism in its developed form 
where the state will cease to exist — you couldn't do anything 
about that except say that then the principle would be 
realised: from each according to his ability, to each according 
to his needs. But this is still a long way off, and to say that 
means not saying anything except that we have no firm 
ground to go on. We shall arrive there in the long run if we 
reach socialism. It is enough for us to set to work on what 
we have said. If we were to do this it would be a tremendous 
historic achievement. We cannot give a description of social- 
ism; what socialism will be like when its completed forms 
are arrived at — this we do not know, we cannot tell. To say 
that the era of social revolution has begun, that we have done 
this or that, and that we want to do this or that — this we do 
know and will say, and it will show the European workers 
that we do not in any way exaggerate, so to speak, our 
strength; this is what we have begun to do and what we intend 
to do. But as to knowing at the present time what social- 



ism will look like when completed — this we do not know. 
Theoretically, in theoretical works, in articles, speeches 
and lectures, we shall expound the view that the struggle 
against the anarchists is being waged by Kautsky incorrect- 
ly, but we cannot put this in the Programme because we 
do not yet have the data for a description of socialism. The 
bricks of which socialism will be composed have not yet been 
made. We cannot say anything further, and we should be as 
cautious and accurate as possible. In that and only in that 
will lie our Programme's power of attraction. But if we 
advance the slightest claim to something that we cannot 
give, the power of our Programme will be weakened. It 
will be suspected that our Programme is only a fantasy. The 
Programme describes what we have begun to do and the suc- 
ceeding steps that we wish to take. We are not in a position 
to give a description of socialism and it was incorrect that 
this task was formulated. 


Since the formulation was not in writing, misunderstand- 
ing, of course, is possible. But Comrade Bukharin did not 
convince me. The name of our Party indicates sufficiently 
clearly that we are advancing towards complete communism, 
thus we are putting forward such abstract propositions as 
that each of us will work according to his ability and will 
receive according to his needs, without any military control 
and compulsion. It is premature to speak about this 
now. Just when will the state wither away? We shall have 
managed to convene more than two congresses before the 
time comes to say: see how our state is withering away. 
It is too early for that. To proclaim the withering away 
of the state prematurely would distort the historical 
perspective . 





Lomov very cleverly referred to my speech in which I 
demanded that the Central Committee should be capable of 
pursuing a uniform line. This does not mean that all those 
in the Central Committee should be of one and the same 
opinion. To hold that view would be to go towards a split; 
therefore I proposed that the Congress should not accept 
this declaration, in order to enable the comrades, after con- 
sulting their local organisations, to think over their decision. 
I, too, was in the Central Committee in such a position at 
the time when a proposal not to sign the peace treaty was 
adopted, and I kept silent, without in any way closing my 
eyes to the fact that I was not accepting responsibility for 
it. Every member of the Central Committee is able to dis- 
claim responsibility without ceasing to be a member and 
without raising an uproar. Of course, comrades, in certain 
circumstances it is permissible, sometimes it is inevitable, 
but that this should be necessary now with the present 
organisation of Soviet power, which enables us to check 
how far we are keeping contact with the masses — this I 
doubt. I think that if the question of Vinnichenko arises, 
the comrades can defend their point of view without resign- 
ing from the Central Committee. If we are going to uphold 
the standpoint of preparing for a revolutionary war and 
of manoeuvring, it is necessary to enter the Central Commit- 
tee; one can state that disagreements have arisen from 
below, we have an absolute right to make a statement 
about that. There is not the slightest danger that history 



will impose responsibility on Uritsky and Lomov for not 
rejecting the title of members of the Central Committee. 
We must try to find some kind of restraint that will do 
away with the fashion for resigning from the Central 
Committee. It should be stated that the Congress expresses 
the hope that comrades will formulate their disagreement 
through their protests but not by resigning from the Central 
Committee, and that the Congress, taking its statement 
into account, will vote against removal of the candidatures 
of the group of comrades and will hold the elections, calling 
on them to take back their declarations. 





The Congress is of the opinion that a refusal to enter 
the Central Committee in the situation at present obtaining 
in the Party is particularly undesirable, since such a refusal 
is in general impermissible in principle to those who desire 
the unity of the Party, and would today be a double threat 
to unity. 

The Congress declares that everyone can and should deny 
his responsibility for any step taken by the Central Com- 
mittee, if he does not agree with it, by means of a declara- 
tion to that effect but not by leaving the Central Committee. 

The Congress is firm in the hope that the comrades will, 
after a consultation with the mass organisations, withdraw 
their resignation; the Congress will, therefore, carry through 
elections without taking the statement of resignation into 

Published according to 
the manuscript 





My draft to be taken as the basis* (pamphlet, p. 19 et 

The theoretical part to remain, after discarding the last 
paragraph of the first part (p. 22 of the pamphlet, from 
the words "The urgent task of the day" to the words "the 
substance of the socialist revolution",** i.e., 5 lines). 

In the next paragraph (p. 22), beginning with the words 
"The fulfilment of this task", insert the alteration indicated 
in the article "Concerning a Revision of the Party Programme" 
in Prosveshcheniye (No. 1-2, September-October 1917), 
p. 93.*** 

In the same paragraph in two places insert instead of 

(1) "opportunism and social-chauvinism"; 

(2) "between opportunism and social-chauvinism, on 
the one hand, and the revolutionary internationalist struggle 
of the proletariat for the realisation of the socialist system, 
on the other." 

Further on, everything has to be re-written, approxima- 
tely as follows: 

* The name of the Party simply: "Communist Party" (without 
addition of "Russian"), but in brackets: (Party of Bolsheviks). 
**See present edition, Vol. 24, p. 469.— Ed. 
***Ibid., Vol. 24, p. 470, and Vol. 26, p. 169.— Ed. 



The Revolution of October 25 (November 7), 1917 in 
Russia brought about the dictatorship of the proletariat, 
which has been supported by the poor peasants or semi- 

This dictatorship confronts the Communist Party in 
Russia with the task of carrying through to the end, of 
completing, the expropriation of the landowners and bour- 
geoisie that has already begun, and the transfer of all 
factories, railways, banks, the fleet and other means of pro- 
duction and exchange to ownership by the Soviet Republic; 

utilisation of the alliance of urban workers and poor 
peasants, which has already abolished private ownership 
of land, and utilisation of the law on the transitional form 
between small-peasant farming and socialism, which 
modern ideologists of the peasantry that has put itself on the 
side of the proletarians have called socialisation of the land, 
for a gradual but steady transition to joint tillage and large- 
scale socialist agriculture; 

consolidation and further development of the Federative 
Republic of Soviets as an immeasurably higher and more 
progressive form of democracy than bourgeois parliamentar- 
ism, and as the sole type of state corresponding, on the basis 
of the experience of the Paris Commune of 1871 and equally 
of the experience of the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 
1917-18, to the transitional period between capitalism and 
socialism, i.e., to the period of the dictatorship of the 

thorough utilisation in every way of the torch of world 
socialist revolution lit in Russia in order, by paralysing the 
attempts of the imperialist bourgeois states to intervene in 
the internal affairs of Russia or to unite for direct struggle 
and war against the socialist Soviet Republic, to carry the 
revolution into the most advanced countries and in general 
into all countries. 

Consolidation and Development of Soviet Power 

The consolidation and development of Soviet power as 
the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat and poor 
peasantry (semi-proletarians), a form already tested by 



experience and brought to the fore by the mass movement 
and the revolutionary struggle. 

The consolidation and development must consist in the 
accomplishment (a broader, more general and planned accom- 
plishment) of those tasks which historically devolve on 
this form of state power, on this new type of state, namely: 

(1) union and organisation of the working and exploited 
masses oppressed by capitalism, and only them, i.e., only 
the workers and poor peasantry, semi-proletarians, with 
automatic exclusion of the exploiting classes and rich 
representatives of the petty bourgeoisie; 

(2) union of the most vigorous, active, class-conscious 
part of the oppressed classes, their vanguard, which must 
educate every member of the working population for inde- 
pendent participation in the management of the state, not 
theoretically but practically; 

(4) (3) abolition of parliamentarism (as the separation 
of legislative from executive activity); union of legislative 
and executive state activity. Fusion of administration with 

(3) (4) closer connection of the whole apparatus of state 
power and state administration with the masses than under 
previous forms of democracy; 

(5) creation of an armed force of workers and peasants, 
one least divorced from the people (Soviets = armed workers 
and peasants). Organised character of nation-wide arming 
of the people, as one of the first steps towards arming the 
whole people; 

(6) more complete democracy, through less formality 
and making election and recall easier; 

(7) close (and direct) connection with occupations and 
with productive-economic units (elections based on factories, 
and on local peasant and handicraft areas). This close connec- 
tion makes it possible to carry out profound socialist 

(8) (partly, if not wholly, covered by the preceding) — the 
possibility of getting rid of bureaucracy, of doing without 
it, the beginning of the realisation of this possibility; 

(9) transfer of the focus of attention in questions of democ- 
racy from formal recognition of a formal equality of the 
bourgeoisie and the proletariat, of poor and rich, to the prac- 



tical feasibility of the enjoyment of freedom (democracy) 
by the working and exploited mass of the population; 

(10) the further development of the Soviet organisation 
of the state must consist in every member of a Soviet being 
obliged to carry out constant work in administering the 
state, alongside participation in meetings of the Soviet; — 
and furthermore in each and every member of the popula- 
tion being drawn gradually both into taking part in Soviet 
organisation (on the condition of subordination to organi- 
sations of the working people) and into serving in state 

The Fulfilment of These Tasks Requires: 

a) in the political sphere: development of the Soviet 

Advantages of Soviets (Prosveshcheniye, pp. 13-14)*; (six 

extension of the Soviet Constitution in so far as 
the resistance of the exploiters ceases to the whole 

federation of nations, as a transition to a conscious and 
closer unity of the working people, when they have learnt 
voluntarily to rise above national dissension; 

necessarily ruthless suppression of the resistance of the 
exploiters; standards of "general" (i.e., bourgeois) democ- 
racy are subordinate to this aim, give way to it: 

"Liberties" and democracy not for all, but for the working 
and exploited masses, to emancipate them from exploitation; 
ruthless suppression of exploiters; 

NB: chief stress is shifted from formal recognition of 
liberties (such as existed under bourgeois parliamentar- 
ism) to actually ensuring the enjoyment of liberties by the 
working people who are overthrowing the exploiters, e.g., 
from recognition of freedom of assembly to the handing 
over of all the best halls and premises to the workers, from 
recognition of freedom of speech to the handing over of all 
the best printing presses to the workers, and so forth. 

* See present edition, Vol. 26, p. 103.— Ed. 



A brief enumeration of these "liberties" from the old 
minimum programme. 

[Arming the workers and disarming the bourgeoisie.] 

Transition through the Soviet state to the gradual aboli- 
tion of the state by systematically drawing an ever greater 
number of citizens, and subsequently each and every citizen, 
into direct and daily performance of their share of the bur- 
dens of administering the state. 

b) In the economic sphere: 

Socialist organisation of production on the scale of the 
whole state: management by workers' organisations (trade 
unions, factory committees, etc.) under the general leader- 
ship of Soviet power, which alone is sovereign. 

The same for transport and distribution (at first state 
monopoly of "trade", subsequently replacement, complete 
and final, of "trade" by planned, organised distribution 
through associations of trading and industrial office workers, 
under the leadership of Soviet power). 

— Compulsory organisation of the whole population in con- 
sumer and producer communes. 

While not (for the time being) abolishing money and not 
prohibiting individual purchase and sale transactions by 
individual families, we must, in the first place, make it 
obligatory by law to carry out all such transactions through 
the consumer and producer communes. 

— An immediate start to be made on full realisation of 
universal compulsory labour service, with the most cautious 
and gradual extension of it to the small peasants who live 
by their own farming without wage labour; 

the first measure, the first step towards universal compul- 
sory labour service must be the introduction of consumers' 
work (budget) books (compulsory introduction) for all well- 
to-do ( = persons with an income over 500 rubles per month, 
and then for owners of enterprises with wage-workers, for 
families with servants, etc.). 

Buying and selling is also permissible not through one's 
commune (during journeys, at markets, etc.), but with com- 
pulsory entry of the transaction (if above a definite sum) in 
the consumers' work book. 

— Complete concentration of banking in the hands of 
the state and of all financial operations of trade in the banks. 



Standardisation of banking current accounts; gradual 
transition to the compulsory keeping of current accounts 
in the bank, at first by the largest, and later by all the coun- 
try's enterprises. Compulsory deposit of money in the banks 
and transfer of money only through the banks. 

— Standardisation of accounting and control over all 
production and distribution of output; this accounting and 
control must be carried out at first by workers' organisations 
and subsequently by each and every member of the popula- 

— Organisation of competition between the various (all) 
consumer and producer communes of the country for steady 
improvement of organisation, discipline and labour produc- 
tivity, for transition to superior techniques, for economising 
labour and materials, for gradually reducing the working 
day to six hours, and for gradually equalising all wages 
and salaries in all occupations and categories. 

— Steady, systematic measures for (transition to Massen- 
speisung ) replacement of the individual domestic economy 
of separate families by joint catering for large groups of 

In the educational sphere 

the old items, plus. 

In the financial sphere 

replacement of indirect taxes by a progressive income 
and property tax, and equally by deduction of a (definite) 
revenue from state monopolies. In this connection, 
remittance in kind of bread and other products to workers 
employed by the state in various forms of socially necessary 


Support of the revolutionary movement of the socialist 
proletariat in the advanced countries in the first instance. 

Propaganda. Agitation. Fraternisation. 

Ruthless struggle against opportunism and social- 

public catering. — Ed. 



Support of the democratic and revolutionary movement in 
all countries in general, and especially in the colonies and 
dependent countries. 

Liberation of the colonies. Federation as a transition to 
voluntary fusion. 

Kommunist No. 5, 
March 9, 1918 

Published according to 
the manuscript 



Thou art wretched, thou art abundant, 
Thou art mighty , thou art impotent 
— Mother Russia!' 1 ^ 

Human history these days is making a momentous and 
most difficult turn, a turn, one might say without the least 
exaggeration, of immense significance for the emancipation 
of the world. A turn from war to peace; a turn from a war 
between plunderers who are sending to the shambles millions 
of the working and exploited people for the sake of establish- 
ing a new system of dividing the spoils looted by the strong- 
est of them, to a war of the oppressed against the oppress- 
ors for liberation from the yoke of capital; a turn from an 
abyss of suffering, anguish, starvation and degradation to the 
bright future of communist society, universal prosperity 
and enduring peace. No wonder that at the sharpest points 
of this sharp turn, when all around the old order is breaking 
down and collapsing with a terrible grinding crash, and 
the new order is being born amid indescribable suffering, 
there are some whose heads grow dizzy, some who are seized 
by despair, some who seek salvation from the at times too 
bitter reality in fine-sounding and alluring phrases. 

It has been Russia's lot to see most clearly, and experience 
most keenly and painfully the sharpest of sharp turning- 
points in history as it swings round from imperialism 
towards the communist revolution. In the space of a few 
days we destroyed one of the oldest, most powerful, barba- 
rous and brutal of monarchies. In the space of a few months 
we passed through a number of stages of collaboration with 
the bourgeoisie and of shaking off petty-bourgeois illusions, 
for which other countries have required decades. In the course 



of a few weeks, having overthrown the bourgeoisie, we 
crushed its open resistance in civil war. We passed in a 
victorious triumphal march of Bolshevism from one end of 
a vast country to the other. We raised the lowest strata of 
the working people oppressed by tsarism and the bourgeoisie 
to liberty and independent life. We established and consol- 
idated a Soviet Republic, a new type of state, which is 
infinitely superior to, and more democratic than, the best of 
the bourgeois-parliamentary republics. We established the 
dictatorship of the proletariat supported by the poor peas- 
antry, and began a broadly conceived system of socialist 
reforms. We awakened the faith of the millions upon mil- 
lions of workers of all countries in their own strength and 
kindled the fires of enthusiasm in them. Everywhere we 
issued the call for a world workers' revolution. We flung 
a challenge to the imperialist plunderers of all coun- 

Then in a few days we were thrown to the ground by an 
imperialist plunderer, who fell upon the unarmed. He com- 
pelled us to sign an incredibly burdensome and humiliating 
peace — as tribute for having dared to tear ourselves, even 
for the shortest space of time, from the iron clutches of an 
imperialist war. The more ominously the shadow of a work- 
ers' revolution in his own country rises before the plun- 
derer, the greater his ferocity in crushing and stifling Russia 
and tearing her to pieces. 

We were compelled to sign a "Tilsit" peace. We need no 
self-deception. We must courageously look the bitter, un- 
adorned truth straight in the face. We must measure fully, 
to the very bottom, that abyss of defeat, dismemberment, 
enslavement, and humiliation into which we have now been 
pushed. The more clearly we understand this, the firmer, 
the more steeled and tempered will be our will to liberation, 
our aspiration to rise again from enslavement to independ- 
ence, and our unbending determination to ensure that at 
any price Russia ceases to be wretched and impotent and 
becomes mighty and abundant in the full meaning of these 

And mighty and abundant she can become, for, after all, 
we still have sufficient territory and natural wealth left 
to us to supply each and all, if not with abundant, at least 



with adequate means, of life. Our natural wealth, our man- 
power and the splendid impetus which the great revolution 
has given to the creative powers of the people are ample 
material to build a truly mighty and abundant Russia. 

Russia will become mighty and abundant if she abandons 
all dejection and all phrase-making, if, with clenched 
teeth, she musters all her forces and strains every nerve and 
muscle, if she realises that salvation lies only along that 
road of world socialist revolution upon which we have set 
out. March forward along that road, undismayed by defeats, 
lay the firm foundation of socialist society stone by stone, 
work with might and main to establish discipline and self- 
discipline, consolidate everywhere organisation, order, 
efficiency, and the harmonious co-operation of all the forces 
of the people, introduce comprehensive accounting of and 
control over production and distribution — such is the way 
to build up military might and socialist might. 

It would be unworthy of a genuine socialist who has 
suffered grave defeat either to bluster or to give way to des- 
pair. It is not true that our position is hopeless and that all 
that remains for us is to choose between an "inglorious" 
death (inglorious from the point of view of the szlachcic), 
such as this harsh peace represents, and a "gallant" death in 
a hopeless fight. It is not true that by signing a "Tilsit" peace 
we have betrayed our ideals or our friends. We have betrayed 
nothing and nobody, we have not sanctified or covered up 
any lie, we have not refused to help a single friend or comrade 
in misfortune in every way we could and with everything at 
our disposal. A general who withdraws the remnants of his 
army into the heart of the country when it has been beaten 
or is in panic-stricken flight, or who, in extremity, shields 
this retreat by a harsh and humiliating peace, is not guilty 
of treachery towards that part of his army which he is 
powerless to help and which has been cut off by the enemy. 
Such a general performs his duty by choosing the only way 
of saving what can still be saved, by refusing to gamble 
recklessly, by not embellishing the bitter truth for the people, 
by "surrendering space in order to gain time", by taking 
advantage of any and every respite, even the briefest, in 
which to muster his forces and to allow his army to rest or 
recover, if it is affected by disintegration and demoralisation. 



We have signed a "Tilsit" peace. When Napoleon I, in 
1807, compelled Prussia to sign the Peace of Tilsit, the con- 
queror smashed the Germans' entire army, occupied their 
capital and all their big cities, brought in his own police, 
compelled the vanquished to supply him, the conqueror, 
with auxiliary corps for fresh predatory wars, and parti- 
tioned Germany, concluding alliances with some German 
states against others. Nevertheless, the German people sur- 
vived even such a peace, proved able to muster their forces, 
to rise and to win the right to liberty and independence. 

To all those who are able and willing to think, the example 
of the Peace of Tilsit (which was only one of many harsh 
and humiliating treaties forced upon the Germans at that 
period) clearly shows how childishly naive is the idea that 
under all conditions a harsh peace means the bottomless 
pit of ruin, while war is the path of valour and salvation. 
Periods of war teach us that peace has not infrequently 
in history served as a respite and a means of mustering forces 
for new battles. The Peace of Tilsit was a supreme humiliation 
for Germany, but at the same time it marked a turn towards 
a supreme national resurgence. At that time historical con- 
ditions were such that this resurgence could be channelled 
only in the direction of a bourgeois state. At that time, more 
than a hundred years ago, history was made by handfuls 
of nobles and a sprinkling of bourgeois intellectuals, while 
the worker and peasant masses were somnolent and dormant. 
As a result history at that time could only crawl along at 
a terribly slow pace. 

But now capitalism has raised culture in general, and 
the culture of the masses in particular, to a much higher 
level. War has shaken up the masses, its untold horrors 
and suffering have awakened them. War has given history 
momentum and it is now flying with locomotive speed. His- 
tory is now being independently made by millions and tens 
of millions of people. Capitalism has now matured for 

Consequently, if Russia is now passing — as she undeniably 
is — from a "Tilsit" peace to a national resurgence, to a 
great patriotic war, the outlet for it is not in the direction 
of a bourgeois state, but in the direction of a world socialist 
revolution. Since October 25, 1917, we have been defencists. 



We are for "defence of the fatherland"; but that patriotic 
war towards which we are moving is a war for a socialist 
fatherland, for socialism as a fatherland, for the Soviet 
Republic as a contingent of the world army of socialism. 

"Hate the Germans, kill the Germans" — such was, and is, 
the slogan of common, i.e., bourgeois, patriotism. But 
we will say "Hate the imperialist plunderers, hate capital- 
ism, death to capitalism" and at the same time "Learn from 
the Germans! Remain true to the brotherly alliance with 
the German workers. They are late in coming to our aid. 
We shall gain time, we shall live to see them coming, and 
they will come, to our aid." 

Yes, learn from the Germans! History is moving in zig- 
zags and by roundabout ways. It so happens that it is the 
Germans who now personify, besides a brutal imperialism, 
the principle of discipline, organisation, harmonious co- 
operation on the basis of modern machine industry, and 
strict accounting and control. 

And that is just what we are lacking. That is just what we 
must learn. That is just what our great revolution needs in 
order to pass from a triumphant beginning, through a 
succession of severe trials, to its triumphant goal. That is 
just what the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic requires 
in order to cease being wretched and impotent and become 
mighty and abundant for all time. 

March 11, 1918 

Izvestia VTsIK No. 46, 
March 12, 1918 
Signed: N. Lenin 

Published according to 
the text of the pamphlet: 
N. Lenin, The Chief Task 
of Our Day, Moscow, 1918 


MARCH 12, 1918 


Comrades, we are celebrating the anniversary of the Rus- 
sian revolution at a time when the revolution is passing 
through difficult days, when many are ready to give way to 
despondency and disillusionment. But if we look around us, 
if we recall what the revolution has achieved during this 
past year and how the international situation is shaping, 
then not one of us, I am sure, will find room for despair or 
despondency. There should be no room for doubt that the 
world socialist revolution, begun in October, will triumph 
over all difficulties and obstacles, over all the efforts of its 

Comrades, remember how the Russian revolution devel- 
oped Remember how, in a few days in February, thanks 

to the joint action of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, 
who saw that under tsarism even a bourgeois society could 
not exist, thanks to the co-operation between the workers 
and the more enlightened section of the peasants, namely, 
the soldiers, who had lived through all the horrors of war — 
remember how in a few days they succeeded in overthrowing 
the monarchy, which in 1905, 1906 and 1907 had resisted 
incomparably heavier blows and drowned revolutionary 
Russia in blood. And when, after the February victory, the 
bourgeoisie found themselves in power, the revolution went 
forward with incredible speed. 

The Russian revolution produced results which sharply 
distinguish it from the revolutions in Western Europe. It 
produced revolutionary people prepared by the events of 



1905 to take independent action; it produced the Soviets 
of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, bodies 
incomparably more democratic than all those preceding them, 
able to educate, elevate and lead the oppressed mass of 
workers, soldiers and peasants. Thanks to these circumstances 
the Russian revolution within a few months passed through 
that period of compromise with the bourgeoisie which 
in Western Europe took entire decades. The bourgeoisie 
now say that the working class and its representatives, the 
Bolsheviks, are to blame for the fact that the army was 
unequal to the situation. But we can now see that if at that 
time — in March and April — power had not been in the hands 
of the conciliators, of the bourgeoisie who secured cushy 
jobs for themselves and placed the capitalists in power, 
while at the same time leaving the army ragged and starv- 
ing, if power had not been in the hands of such gentlemen 
as Kerensky, who called themselves socialists, but who 
actually carried in their pockets secret treaties binding 
the Russian people to fight until 1918, then perhaps the 
Russian army and revolution might have been spared those 
incredibly severe trials and humiliations through which 
we have had to pass. If at that time power had passed to 
the Soviets, if the conciliators, instead of helping Kerensky 
to drive the army into battle, had come forward with a pro- 
posal for a democratic peace, then our army would not have 
been so badly shattered. They should have said to it: stand 
by. In one hand let it hold the torn-up secret treaty with the 
imperialists and the proposal to all nations for a democratic 
peace; in the other let it hold rifle and gun, and let the front 
remain absolutely intact. If that had been done, the army 
and the revolution could have been saved. Such a gesture, 
even before an enemy like German imperialism, even if it 
were aided by the whole bourgeoisie, by the entire capital- 
ist world, by all the representatives of the bourgeois par- 
ties, such a gesture could, nevertheless, have been of help 
then. This gesture could have put the enemy in a situation 
where it would have seen, on the one hand, the proposed 
democratic peace and the unmasked treaties and, on the other 
hand, the guns. Today we have not such a strong front. We 
cannot reinforce it without artillery. The restoration of the 
front is too difficult, it is proceeding too slowly because we 



have never come into contact with such an enemy. It was 
one thing to struggle with that idiot Romanov or that boaster 
Kerensky, but here we have an enemy which has organised 
all its forces and the economic life of its country for defence 
against the revolution. We knew that in June 1917, instead 
of tearing up the imperialist treaties, Kerensky's government 
hurled the soldiers into an offensive, which sapped their 
strength completely. And now, when the bourgeoisie scream 
about unparalleled disorganisation and national disgrace, 
do they imagine that a revolution, born of war, born of 
unprecedented destruction, can develop calmly, smoothly, 
peacefully, without suffering, without torment, without 
horror? Anyone who imagines the revolution beginning in 
this way is either nothing but a phrase-monger, or one of 
those flabby intellectuals incapable of understanding the 
significance of this war and of the revolution. Yes, that is 
how they reason. But to us it is clear that throughout this 
whole process a great national resurgence is taking place, 
which those who scream about national disgrace do not see. 

However that may be, we have extricated ourselves from 
the war. We are not saying that we extricated ourselves 
without giving anything in return, without paying a price. 
But we managed to get out of the war. We gave the people 
a breathing-space. We do not know how long this breathing- 
space will last. Possibly it will be exceedingly brief because 
the imperialist robbers are bearing down on us from the 
West and the East, and a new war will inevitably begin. 
We do not close our eyes to the fact that the country lies 
in ruins. But the people have been able to rid themselves 
of the tsarist government, of the bourgeois government, and 
to create Soviet organisations which only now, when the 
soldiers have returned from the front, have reached the 
remotest villages. The necessity for them and their signifi- 
cance have been understood by the lowest strata of the 
people, by the most oppressed and downtrodden of the 
people, who were wronged and humiliated by tsars, landown- 
ers and capitalists, and who were seldom able to put heart 
and soul into anything or display their creative ability. 
They not only established Soviet power in the large towns 
and factory areas, but also in the most remote corners of the 
country. Every peasant who up to now has known only 



oppression and robbery at the hands of the authorities, now 
sees the government of the poor in power, the government 
which he himself elects, which has liberated him from 
oppression, and which, despite all the unparalleled 
obstacles and difficulties, will be able to lead him still 

Comrades, although we now have to live through days 
of heavy defeat and oppression, when the head of the Rus- 
sian revolution is under the boot of the Prussian landowners 
and imperialists, I am sure, no matter how great may be 
the anger and indignation in some circles, that deep among 
the people a constructive process is taking place, an accu- 
mulation of energy and discipline, which will give us the 
strength to survive all blows, and which proves that we 
have not betrayed, and will not betray, the revolution. If 
we have been compelled to undergo these trials and defeats, 
it is because the course of history does not run smoothly 
and pleasantly, permitting the working people of all coun- 
tries to rise simultaneously with us. We must not forget the 
sort of enemy we are dealing with. The enemies with whom 
we have had to deal before, Romanov, Kerensky and the 
Russian bourgeoisie — the stupid, unorganised, uncultured 
bourgeoisie that only yesterday licked the boots of Romanov 
and then ran about with secret treaties in their pockets — do 
these enemies amount to anything compared with the inter- 
national bourgeoisie, who have turned all the achievements 
of the human mind into a weapon to suppress the will of the 
working people and have adapted the whole of their organi- 
sation to exterminating people? 

This is the enemy that has hurled itself at us just at the 
moment when we have completely disarmed, when we have 
to state quite openly: we have no army, we are a country 
which has lost its army and is forced to accept a very humil- 
iating peace. 

We are not deceiving anybody, we are not betraying any- 
one, we are not refusing to aid our brothers. But we shall 
have to accept a very onerous peace, we shall have to accept 
terrible conditions. We shall have to retreat in order to gain 
time while this is still possible, so that our allies can come 
to our aid. And we have got allies. No matter how great our 
hatred of imperialism, no matter how strong the feeling, 



a justified feeling, of anger and indignation against it, we 
must recognise that we are now defencists. It is not secret 
treaties that we are defending, we are defending socialism, 
we are defending our socialist fatherland. In order to be able 
to defend it, however, we have had to accept the most bitter 
humiliation. We know that there are periods in every 
nation's history when it is obliged to retreat before the pres- 
sure of an enemy with stronger nerves. We have gained a 
breathing-space, and we must make use of it so that the army 
may have some sort of respite, so that as a mass (not those 
tens of thousands in the large cities who attend meetings, 
but the millions and tens of millions who have dispersed 
to the villages) it should understand that the old war is 
over, and a new war is beginning, a war to which we have 
replied with a peace offer, a war in which we have retreated 
in order to overcome our lack of discipline, our inertia, 
our flabbiness — despite which we were able to defeat tsarism 
and the Russian bourgeoisie, but not the European interna- 
tional bourgeoisie. If we overcome them we shall be the 
victors, because we have allies, and we are convinced of this. 

However viciously the international imperialists now 
behave on seeing our defeat, their enemies, who are our 
allies, are maturing within their own countries. We know 
and have always known for certain that among the German 
working class this process is taking place, perhaps more 
slowly than we expected, than we would have liked, but 
there is no doubt that indignation against the imperialists 
is growing, that the number of allies in our work is increasing 
and that they will come to our aid. 

You must give all your strength, provide the right watch- 
word and enforce discipline. This is our duty to the socialist 
revolution. Then we shall be able to hold out until the allied 
proletariat comes to our aid and, together, we shall defeat 
all the imperialists and capitalists. 

Izvestia VTsIK No. 47, Published according to 

March 14, 1918 the text of Izvestia, 

collated with the verbatim 


MARCH 14-16, 1918 




The Congress expresses its gratitude to the American 
people, and primarily to the working and exploited classes 
of the United States of America, in connection with Presi- 
dent Wilson's expression of his sympathy for the Russian 
people through the Congress of Soviets at a time when the 
Soviet Socialist Republic of Russia is passing through 
severe trials. 

The Russian Soviet Republic, having become a neutral 
country, takes advantage of the message received from Pres- 
ident Wilson to express to all peoples that are perishing 
and suffering from the horrors of the imperialist war its 
profound sympathy and firm conviction that the happy time 
is not far away when the working people of all bourgeois 
countries will throw off the yoke of capital and establish 
the socialist system of society, the only system able to ensure 
a durable and just peace and also culture and well-being 
for all working people. 

Written on March 13 or 14, 1918 

Published on March 15, 1918 
in Pravda No. 49 

Published according to 
the manuscript 






Comrades, today we have to settle a question that marks 
a turning-point in the development of the Russian revolu- 
tion, and not only of the Russian but also of the international 
revolution, and in order to decide correctly on this very harsh 
peace which representatives of Soviet power have concluded 
at Brest-Litovsk, and which Soviet power asks you to 
approve, or ratify — in order to settle this question correctly it 
is more than ever necessary for us to get an understanding 
of the historical meaning of the turning-point we are at, an 
understanding of the main feature of the development of 
the revolution up to now and the main reason for the severe 
defeat and the period of stern trials we have passed 

It seems to me that the chief source of disagreement among 
the Soviet parties 78 on this question is that some people 
too easily give way to a feeling of just and legitimate indigna- 
tion over the defeat of the Soviet Republic by imperialism, too 
easily give way at times to despair instead of considering 
the historical conditions of the revolution as they developed 
up to the time of the present peace, and as they appear to 
us since the peace; instead of doing that they try to answer 
questions of the tactics of the revolution on the basis of 
their immediate feelings. The entire history of revolutions, 
however, teaches us that when we have to do with a mass 
movement or with the class struggle, especially one like 
that at present developing not only throughout a single 
country, albeit a tremendous country, but also involving 
all international relations — in such a case we must base our 



tactics first and foremost on an appraisal of the objective 
situation, we must examine analytically the course of the 
revolution up to this moment and the reason it has taken 
a turn so menacing and so sharp, and so much to our disad- 

If we examine the development of our revolution from that 
point of view we see clearly that it has so far passed through 
a period of relative and largely imaginary self-dependence, 
and of being temporarily independent of international re- 
lations. The path travelled by our revolution from the end 
of February 1917 to February 11 of this year, 79 when the 
German offensive began, was, by and large, a path of easy 
and rapid successes. If we study the development of that 
revolution on an international scale, from the standpoint 
of the Russian revolution alone, we shall see that we have 
passed through three periods in the past year. The first 
period is that in which the working class of Russia, together 
with all advanced, class-conscious and active peasants, 
supported not only by the petty bourgeoisie but also by the 
big bourgeoisie, swept away the monarchy in a few days. 
This astounding success is to be explained by the fact that 
on the one hand, the Russian people had acquired a big 
reserve of revolutionary fighting potential from the experience 
of 1905, while on the other hand, Russia, an extremely 
backward country, had suffered more than any other from the 
war and had, at an especially early date, reached a stage 
when it was absolutely impossible to continue the war under 
the old regime. 

This short tempestuous success when a new organisation 
was created — the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peas- 
ants' Deputies — was followed by the long months of the 
period of transition of our revolution, the period in which 
the government of the bourgeoisie, immediately undermined 
by the Soviets, was kept going and strengthened by the petty- 
bourgeois compromising parties, the Mensheviks and Social- 
ist-Revolutionaries, who supported it. It was a govern- 
ment that supported the imperialist war and the imperialist 
secret treaties, fed the working class on promises, did lit- 
erally nothing, and preserved the state of economic ruin. 
The Soviets mustered their forces in this period, a period 
that for us, for the Russian revolution, was a long one; 



it was a long period for the Russian revolution but it was a 
short one from the international point of view, because in 
most of the leading countries the period of overcoming petty- 
bourgeois illusions, of compromise by various parties, groups 
and trends had been taking not months but long decades. 
The span of time, from April 20 to the moment Kerensky 
renewed the imperialist war in June (he had the secret 
imperialist treaty in his pocket), was decisive. This second 
period included our July defeat and the Kornilov revolt, 
and only through the experience of the mass struggle, only 
when the working-class and peasant masses had realised from 
their own experience and not from sermons that petty- 
bourgeois compromise was all in vain — only then, after long 
political development, after long preparations and changes 
in the moods and views of party groups, was the ground 
made ready for the October Revolution; only then did the 
Russian revolution enter the third period of its initial stage, 
a stage of isolation, or temporary separation, from the 
world revolution. 

This third, or October, period, the period of organisation, 
was the most difficult; at the same time it was a period of 
the biggest and most rapid triumphs. After October, our 
revolution — the revolution that placed power in the hands 
of the revolutionary proletariat, established its dictator- 
ship and obtained for it the support of the vast majority 
of the proletariat and the poor peasantry — after October 
our revolution made a victorious, triumphal advance. 
Throughout Russia civil war began in the form of resistance 
by the exploiters, the landowners and bourgeoisie, supported 
by part of the imperialist bourgeoisie. 

Civil war broke out, and in that war the forces of the ene- 
mies of Soviet power, the forces of the enemies of the working 
and exploited masses, proved to be insignificant; the civil 
war was one continuous triumph for Soviet power because 
its opponents, the exploiters, the landowners and bour- 
geoisie, had neither political nor economic support, and their 
attacks collapsed. The struggle against them was not so 
much a military operation as agitation; section after section, 
mass after mass, down to the working Cossacks, abandoned 
the exploiters who were trying to lead them away from 
Soviet power. 



This period of the victorious, triumphal advance of the 
dictatorship of the proletariat and Soviet power, when great 
masses of the working and exploited people of Russia were 
drawn to the side of Soviet power definitely and irrevocably — 
this period constituted the final and highest point of devel- 
opment of the Russian revolution, which had been progress- 
ing all this time, apparently, independently of world 
imperialism. That was the reason why a country which was 
extremely backward and was the most prepared for the revo- 
lution by the experience of 1905 was able to promote one 
class after another to power rapidly, easily and systematic- 
ally, getting rid of various political alignments until at 
last that political structure was reached which was the last 
word, not only in the Russian revolution, but also in the 
West-European workers' revolutions, for Soviet power has 
been consolidated in Russia and has won the absolute sym- 
pathy of the working and exploited people because it has 
destroyed the old state apparatus that was an instrument of 
oppression and has laid the foundation of a state of a new 
and higher form of which the Paris Commune was the pro- 
totype. The Commune destroyed the old state machine and 
replaced it by the armed force of the masses themselves, 
replaced bourgeois parliamentary democracy by the democ- 
racy of the working people, which excluded the exploiters 
and systematically suppressed their resistance. 

That is what the Russian revolution did in this period and 
that is why a small vanguard of the Russian revolution is 
under the impression that this rapid triumphal advance can 
be expected to continue in further victory. That is precisely 
their mistake because the period when the Russian revolu- 
tion was developing, passing state power in Russia from one 
class to another and getting rid of class compromise within 
the bounds of Russia alone — this period-was able to exist 
historically only because the predatory giants of world 
imperialism were temporarily halted in their advance against 
Soviet power. A revolution that overthrew the monarchy 
in a few days, exhausted all possibilities of compromise 
with the bourgeoisie in a few months and overcame all the 
resistance by the bourgeoisie in a civil war of a few weeks, 
this revolution, the revolution of a socialist republic, could 
live side by side with the imperialist powers, among the 



international plunderers, the wild beasts of international 
imperialism, only so long as the bourgeoisie, locked in mortal 
struggle with each other, were paralysed in their offensive 
against Russia. 

And then began the period that we feel so keenly and see 
before our eyes, the period of disastrous defeats and severe 
trials for the Russian revolution, the period in which the 
swift, direct and open offensive against the enemies of the 
revolution is over while in its place we are experiencing dis- 
astrous defeats and have to retreat before forces that are 
immeasurably greater than ours, before the forces of interna- 
tional imperialism and finance capital, before the military 
might that the entire bourgeoisie with its modern weapons 
and its organisation has mustered against us in the interests 
of plunder, oppression and the strangling of small nations; 
we had to think of bringing our forces up to their level; we 
had to face a task of tremendous difficulty, that of direct 
combat with enemies that differed from Romanov and 
Kerensky who could not be taken seriously; we had to meet 
the forces of the international imperialist bourgeoisie, all 
its military might, we had to stand face to face with the 
world plunderers. In view of the delay in getting help from 
the international socialist proletariat we naturally had to 
take upon ourselves a conflict with these forces and we 
suffered a disastrous defeat. 

And this epoch is one of disastrous defeats, an epoch of 
retreat, an epoch in which we must save at least a small 
part of our position by retreating before imperialism, by 
awaiting the time when there will be changes in the world 
situation in general, when the forces of the European pro- 
letariat arrive, the forces that exist and are maturing but 
which have not been able to deal with their enemy as easily 
as we did with ours; it would be a very great illusion, a very 
great mistake, to forget that it was easy for the Russian revo- 
lution to begin but difficult for it to take further steps .This was 
inevitable because we had to begin with the most backward 
and most rotten political system. The European revolution 
will have to begin against the bourgeoisie, against a much 
more serious enemy and under immeasurably more difficult 
conditions. It will be much more difficult for the European 
revolution to begin. We see that it is immeasurably more dif- 



ficult to make the first breach in the system that is holding 
back the revolution. It will be much easier for the European 
revolution to advance to the second and third stages. Things 
cannot be different with the alignment of forces of the revo- 
lutionary and reactionary classes that at present obtains 
in the world. This is the main turn in events that is always 
overlooked by people who view the present situation, the 
extremely serious position of the revolution, from the stand- 
point of their own feelings and their indignation, and not 
from the historical standpoint. Historical experience teaches 
us that always, in all revolutions, at a time when a revo- 
lution takes an abrupt turn from swift victory to severe 
defeats, there comes a period of pseudo-revolutionary phrase- 
making that invariably causes the greatest damage to 
the development of the revolution. And so, comrades, we 
shall be able to appraise our tactics correctly only when we 
set out to consider the turn in events that has hurled us 
back from swift, easy and complete victories to grave defeats. 
This is an extremely difficult and extremely serious question 
arising out of the present turning-point in the development 
of the revolution, the turn from easy victories within the 
country to exceptionally heavy defeats without; it is also 
a turning-point in the entire world revolution, a turn from 
the period of propaganda and agitation on the part of the 
Russian revolution, with imperialism biding its time, to 
the offensive of imperialism against Soviet power, and this 
turn puts a particularly difficult and acute question before 
the international movement in Western Europe. If we are 
not to ignore this historical aspect of the situation we must 
try to understand how Russia's basic interests in the question 
of the present harsh, or obscene, as it is called, peace took 

When arguing against those who refused to see the need 
to accept that peace, I have often come up against the state- 
ment that the idea of concluding the peace expresses only 
the interests of the exhausted peasant masses, the declassed 
soldiers, and so on and so forth. Whenever I hear such state- 
ments, whenever I hear such things referred to, I am 
always amazed that the class aspect of national development 
is forgotten by comrades — people who limit themselves 
exclusively to seeking explanations. As though the Party 



of the proletariat on taking power had not counted on the 
alliance of the proletariat and the semi-proletariat, i.e., 
the-poor peasantry (i.e., the majority of the peasantry of 
Russia), had not known that only such an alliance would 
be able to hand the government of Russia over to the revo- 
lutionary power of the Soviets, the power of the majority, 
the real majority of the people, and that without this alliance 
it would be senseless to make any attempt to establish 
power, especially at difficult turning-points in history! 
As though we could now abandon this verity that was accept- 
ed by all of us and confine ourselves to a contemptuous 
reference to the exhausted state of the peasantry and the 
declassed soldiers! With regard to the exhausted state of the 
peasantry and the declassed soldiers we must say that the 
country will offer resistance, and that the poor peasants 
will be able to offer resistance only in so far as those poor 
peasants are capable of directing their forces to the struggle. 

When we were about to take power in October it was 
obvious that events were inevitably leading up to it, that 
the turn towards Bolshevism in the Soviets indicated a turn 
throughout the country, and that the Bolsheviks must inev- 
itably take power. When we, realising this, took power in 
October, we said to ourselves and to all the people, very 
clearly and unequivocally, that it was a transfer of power 
to the proletariat and the poor peasantry, that the proletariat 
knew the peasantry would support it — you know yourselves 
in what — in its active struggle for peace and its readiness 
to continue the fight against big finance capital. In this we 
are making no mistake, and nobody who sticks to the con- 
cept of class forces and class alignments can get away from 
the indisputable truth that we cannot ask a country of small 
peasants, a country that has given much for the European 
and world revolution, to carry on the struggle in a difficult 
situation, a most difficult situation, when help from the 
West-European proletariat has undoubtedly been delayed, 
although there is no doubt that it is coming to us, as the 
facts, the strikes, etc., show. That is why I say that such 
references to the exhaustion of the peasant masses, etc., 
are made by people who simply have no arguments, who are 
absolutely helpless when they seek such arguments, and who 
are quite unable to grasp class relations as a whole, in their 



entirety, the relations of the revolution of the proletariat 
and of the peasant masses; it is only when, at every sharp 
turn in history, we appraise the class relations as a whole, 
the relations of all classes, and do not select individual ex- 
amples and individual cases, that we feel ourselves firmly 
supported by an analysis of probable facts. I realise full well 
that the Russian bourgeoisie are today urging us on towards 
a revolutionary war when it is absolutely impossible for us 
to have such a war. This is essential to the class interests of 
the bourgeoisie. 

When they shout about an obscene peace and do not say 
a word about who brought the army to its present state, I 
realise quite well that it is the bourgeoisie together with the 
Dyelo Naroda people, the Tsereteli and Chernov Mensheviks 
and their yes-men (applause) — I know quite well that it 
is the bourgeoisie who are bawling for a revolutionary war. 
Their class interests demand it, their anxiety to see Soviet 
power make a false move demands it. It is not surprising 
that this comes from people who, on the one hand, fill the 
pages of their newspapers with counter-revolutionary scrib- 
bling (Voices: "They've all been suppressed!") Unfortu- 
nately, not yet all of them, but we will close them all down. 
(Applause.) I should like to see the proletariat that would 
allow the counter-revolutionaries, those who support the 
bourgeoisie and collaborate with them, to continue using the 
monopoly of wealth to drug the people with their bourgeois 
opium. There is no such proletariat. (Applause.) 

I realise, of course, that nothing but shouts, howls and 
screams about an obscene peace comes from those publica- 
tions, I realise full well that the people who favour this 
revolutionary war — from the Constitutional-Democrats to 
the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries — are those who meet the 
Germans as they advance and say triumphantly, here come 
the Germans, and then allow their officers, again wearing 
their badges of rank, to strut about in the places that have 
been occupied by the German imperialist invaders. Oh no, 
I am not a bit surprised at these bourgeois, these collabo- 
rators, preaching a revolutionary war. They want Soviet 
power to be caught in a trap. They have shown their hand, 
these bourgeois and collaborators. We have seen them and 
can still see live specimens, we know that in the Ukraine 



there are Ukrainian Kerenskys, Ukrainian Chernovs and 
Ukrainian Tseretelis — there they are, the Vinnichenkos. 
Those gentlemen, the Ukrainian Kerenskys, Chernovs and 
Tseretelis, concealed from the people the peace they conclud- 
ed with the German imperialists, and today they are trying 
to overthrow Soviet power in the Ukraine with the help of 
German bayonets. That is what those bourgeois and those 
collaborators and their accomplices have done. That is what 
they have done, those Ukrainian bourgeois and collaborators, 
whose example you have before your very eyes; they 
concealed and are still concealing their secret treaties from 
the people, they are attacking Soviet power with the aid of 
German bayonets. That is what the Russian bourgeoisie 
want, that is where the bourgeois yes-men are trying to push 
Soviet power, wittingly or unwittingly; they know that 
under no circumstances can Soviet power undertake an im- 
perialist war against the might of imperialism at the pres- 
ent moment. That is why it is only in this international 
situation, in this general class situation, that we can under- 
stand the full depth of the mistake of those who, like the 
Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party, have allowed themselves 
to be carried away by a theory that is common to the history 
of all revolutions at moments of difficulty, a theory that is 
half desperation and half empty phrases; according to this 
theory, instead of taking a sober view of reality and apprais- 
ing the tasks of the revolution in respect of the internal 
and external enemy from the standpoint of class forces, you 
are asked to settle a serious and very grave problem only 
under the impact of your feelings, merely from stand- 
point of feelings. The peace is incredibly harsh and shameful. 
In my statements and speeches I have had occasion to liken 
it to the Peace of Tilsit that the conqueror Napoleon forced 
on the Prussian and German peoples after a series of heavy 
defeats. Yes, the peace is a grave defeat and is humiliating 
to Soviet power, but if you, proceeding from this, and 
limiting yourselves to it, appeal to feelings and arouse dis- 
content in an attempt to settle a gigantic historical problem, 
you will get into that ridiculous and pitiful situation into 
which the Socialist-Revolutionary Party once got itself, 
when in 1907, in a situation that was somewhat similar in 
certain respects, that party also appealed to the feelings 



of revolutionaries, when, after our revolution had suffered 
heavy defeats in 1906 and 1907, Stolypin presented us with 
the laws on the Third Duma — shameful and extremely dif- 
ficult conditions of work in one of the rottenest of represent- 
ative institutions — when our Party, after brief internal 
wavering (the wavering on the question was greater than it 
is today), decided the question in this way: we have no right 
to give way to feelings; no matter how great our indignation 
and dissatisfaction with the shameful Third Duma, we have 
to recognise that it was not chance but the historical neces- 
sity of a developing class struggle which lacked the strength 
to continue but which could muster that strength even in 
the shameful conditions that have been imposed. We proved 
to be right. Those who tried to attract people by revolution- 
ary phrases, by appeals to justice (since they were expressing 
feelings that were trebly legitimate) — those people were 
given a lesson that will not be forgotten by any revolution- 
ary capable of thought and possessing ideas. 

Revolutions do not go smoothly enough to ensure rapid 
and easy progress. There has never been any great revolu- 
tion, even on a national scale, that did not experience a 
hard period of defeat, and the attitude of a revolutionary 
towards the serious question of mass movements, of develop- 
ing revolutions, must not be one of declaring the peace 
obscene and humiliating and then saying he cannot reconcile 
himself to it; it is not sufficient to quote agitational phrases, 
to shower reproaches on us because of the peace — that is 
the known ABC of the revolution, the experience of all 
revolutions. Our experience since 1905 — and if we are rich 
in anything, if there is any reason why the Russian working 
class and poor peasantry have taken upon themselves the 
most difficult and honourable task of beginning the world 
socialist revolution, it is because the Russian people have 
been able, owing to specific historical conditions, to make 
two great revolutions at the beginning of the twentieth 
century — we have to learn from the experience of those 
revolutions, we have to learn to understand that only by 
studying the changes in the class connections between one 
country and another is it possible to prove definitely that 
we are in no condition to accept battle at the moment; we 
have to take this into consideration and say to ourselves, 



whatever respite we may obtain, no matter how unstable, 
no matter how brief, harsh and humiliating the peace may 
be, it is better than war, because it gives the masses a breath- 
ing-space, because it provides us with an opportunity to 
correct what the bourgeoisie have done, the bourgeoisie 
that are shouting wherever they have an opportunity to 
shout, especially under the protection of the Germans in the 
occupied regions. 

The bourgeoisie are shouting that the Bolsheviks are 
responsible for the disintegration of the army, that there is 
no army and the Bolsheviks are to blame for it; but let us 
look at the past, comrades, let us look, firstly, at the devel- 
opment of our revolution. Do you not know that desertion 
and the disintegration of our army began long before the 
revolution, in 1916, and that everybody who has seen the 
army will have to admit that? And what did our bourgeoi- 
sie do to prevent it? Is it not clear that the only chance for 
salvation from the imperialists at that time was in their 
hands, that a chance presented itself in March and April, 
when Soviet organisations could have taken power by a simple 
motion of the hand against the bourgeoisie. And if the 
Soviets had then taken power, if the bourgeois and petty- 
bourgeois intelligentsia, together with the Socialist-Revo- 
lutionaries and Mensheviks, instead of helping Kerensky 
deceive the people, conceal the secret treaties and lead the 
army to an offensive — if they had then come to the aid of the 
army, had supplied it with munitions and rations and had 
compelled the bourgeoisie to help the fatherland — not the 
fatherland of the hucksters, not the fatherland of treaties 
that help to slaughter the people {applause) — and had them- 
selves participated; if the Soviets had forced the bourgeoisie 
to help the fatherland of the workers and all working people, 
and had helped the ragged, barefoot and hungry army, then, 
perhaps, we should have had a period of ten months, long 
enough to rest the army and gain unanimous support for 
it, so that without the army having moved one step from the 
front a general, democratic peace could have been proposed, 
the secret treaties could have been torn up and the line held 
without retreating a single step. There would then have 
been a chance of peace, which the workers and peasants 
would have willingly supported and approved. That would 



have been the tactics of the defence of the fatherland, not 
the fatherland of the Romanovs, Kerenskys, or Chernovs, 
a fatherland with secret treaties, a fatherland of the treach- 
erous bourgeoisie — not that fatherland but the fatherland 
of the working people. That is who is responsible for having 
made the transition from war to revolution and from the 
Russian revolution to world socialism a period of severe 
trials. That is why such proposals as a revolutionary war 
sound like empty phrases, when we know that we have no 
army, when we know that it would have been impossible 
to hold the army, and people with a knowledge of the situ- 
ation could not help seeing that our decree on demobilisation 
was not an invention but the result of obvious necessity, 
because it would have been impossible to hold the army. The 
army could not have been held. That officer, not a Bolshevik, 
was right who, before the October Revolution, said that the 
army could not and would not fight. 80 This is what has come 
of months of bargaining with the bourgeoisie and of all the 
speeches about the need to continue the war; no matter 
what noble sentiments on the part of many revolutionaries, 
or of few revolutionaries, may have dictated them, they 
proved to be empty revolutionary phrases that played into the 
hands of international imperialism so that it could plunder 
as much again and more, just as it has been doing since 
our tactical or diplomatic error, since the time we did not 
sign the Brest Treaty. When we told those who opposed 
concluding peace that if we had a respite of any length they 
would realise that the recuperation of the army and the 
interests of the working people were more important than 
anything else, and that peace should have been concluded 
for this reason — they maintained that there could be no 

But our revolution differs from all previous revolutions 
in having aroused among the masses a desire to build and 
create, and the working people in the most out-of-the-way 
villages, people humiliated, downtrodden and oppressed 
by tsars, landowners, and bourgeoisie, have been aroused; 
this is a period of the revolution that is only now being 
accomplished, now that the rural revolution is under way, 
the revolution that is building a new way of life. And for 
the sake of this respite, no matter how brief and how small 



it may be, it was our duty to sign the treaty, since we place 
the interests of the working people above the interests of 
the bourgeois warriors who rattle their sabres and call on us 
to fight. That is what the revolution teaches. The revolution 
teaches that when we make diplomatic mistakes, when 
we assume that the German workers will come to our aid 
tomorrow, when we hope that Liebknecht will be victorious 
immediately (and we know that one way or another Lieb- 
knecht will win, that is inevitable in the development of the 
working-class movement [applause]), it means that, when 
used unthinkingly, the revolutionary slogans of the difficult 
socialist movement turn into empty phrases. There is not 
a single representative of the working people, there is not 
a single honest worker who would refuse to make the greatest 
sacrifice to help the socialist movement of Germany, because 
during all this time at the front he has learned to distin- 
guish between the German imperialists and the soldiers tor- 
mented by German discipline, most of whom are in sym- 
pathy with us. That is why I say that the Russian revolution 
has corrected our mistake in practice, has corrected it by 
giving us the respite. It is very probable that it will be an 
extremely brief one, but we have the chance of at least a 
brief respite in which the army, worn out and hungry as 
it is, will become conscious of the fact that it has been given 
an opportunity to recuperate. It is clear to us that the 
period of the old imperialist wars is over and we are threatened 
with the further horrors of an outbreak of fresh wars, but 
there have been such periods of war in many historical epochs, 
and they have always become most fierce towards the end. 
This must be understood, not only at meetings in Petrograd 
and Moscow; it must be understood by the many tens of 
millions in the countryside; and the more enlightened part 
of the rural population, those returning from the front, 
those who have experienced the horrors of war, must help 
them understand it; the huge masses of peasants and workers 
must become convinced of the necessity for a revolutionary 
front — they will then say we have acted correctly. 

They tell us we have betrayed the Ukraine and Finland — 
what disgrace! But the situation that has arisen is such that 
we are cut off from Finland, with whom we concluded an 
unwritten treaty before the revolution and have now con- 



eluded a formal treaty. 81 They say we are surrendering 
the Ukraine, which Chernov, Kerensky and Tsereteli are 
going to ruin; they say we are traitors, we have betrayed 
the Ukraine! I say: Comrades, I've seen enough of the history 
of revolution not to be embarrassed by the hostile glances 
and shouts of people who give way to their feelings and are 
incapable of clear judgement. I will give you a simple ex- 
ample. Suppose that two friends are out walking at night and 
they are attacked by ten men. If the scoundrels isolate one 
of them, what is the other to do? He cannot render assistance, 
and if he runs away is he a traitor? And suppose that it is 
not a matter of individuals or of spheres in which questions 
of direct feelings are being settled, but of five armies, each 
a hundred-thousand strong, that surround an army of two 
hundred thousand, and that there is another army that 
should come to the embattled army's assistance. But if 
that second army knows that it is certain to fall into a trap, 
it should withdraw; it must withdraw, even if the retreat 
has to be covered by the conclusion of an obscene, foul peace 
— curse as much as you like, but it is necessary to conclude 
the peace. There is no reason for considering the feelings of 
a duelist who draws his sword and says that he must die 
because he is being compelled to conclude a humiliating 
peace. But we all know that, however we may decide, we 
have no army, and no gestures will save us from the necessity 
of withdrawing to gain time and enable our army to recu- 
perate; everybody who looks reality in the face and does 
not deceive himself with revolutionary phrase-making 
will agree with this. Anyone who faces the facts without 
blinding himself with phrase-making and arrogance must 
know this. 

If we know this, it is our revolutionary duty to conclude 
even this harsh, super-harsh and rapacious treaty, for by 
so doing we shall reach a better position for ourselves and 
for our allies. Did we actually lose anything by concluding 
the peace treaty of March 3? Anyone who wants to look at 
things from the point of view of mass relations, and not 
from that of the aristocratic duelist, will realise that with- 
out an army, or having only the sick remnant of an army, it 
would be self-deception, it would he the greatest deception 
of the people, to accept battle and call it a revolutionary 



war. It is our duty to tell the people the truth; yes, the peace 
is a harsh one. The Ukraine and Finland are perishing but 
we must accept this peace and all class-conscious working 
people in Russia will accept it because they know the 
unvarnished truth, they know the meaning of war, they know 
that to stake everything on one card on the assumption that 
the German revolution will begin immediately is self- 
deception. By concluding peace we have obtained what we 
gave our Finnish friends — a respite, help and not destruc- 

I know of examples from history of much more rapacious 
peace treaties having been concluded, treaties that sur- 
rendered viable nations to the mercy of the conqueror. Let 
us compare our peace to the Peace of Tilsit; the Peace of 
Tilsit was enforced on Prussia and Germany by a conqueror. 
That peace was so harsh that not only were all the capital 
cities of all the German states seized, not only were the Prus- 
sians thrown back to Tilsit, which would be the same as 
throwing us back to Omsk or Tomsk; not only that — the 
worst of all was that Napoleon compelled the conquered 
peoples to supply him with auxiliary troops for his wars; 
but nevertheless, when the situation became such that the 
German peoples had to withstand the attacks of the conquer- 
or, when the epoch of revolutionary wars in France gave 
place to the epoch of imperialist wars of conquest, then 
came the revelation which those people who wax enthusi- 
astic over empty phrases do not want to understand, those 
people, that is, who picture the conclusion of peace as a down- 
fall. This psychology is understandable in an aristocratic 
duelist but not in a worker or peasant. The latter has been 
through the hard school of war and has learned to calculate. 
There have been even greater trials, and nations even more 
backward have come through them. Harsher peace treaties 
have been concluded, the Germans concluded one in an epoch 
when they had no army, or when their army was sick like 
ours. They concluded a very harsh peace with Napoleon. 
But that peace was not the downfall of Germany — on the 
contrary, it was the turning-point, national defence, renewal. 
We are on the eve of just such a turning-point and are expe- 
riencing analogous conditions. We must look truth in the 
face and banish all empty phrases and declarations. We 



must say, peace, if it is necessary, must be concluded. The 
war of liberation, the class war, the war of the people will 
take the place of the Napoleonic wars. The system of the 
Napoleonic wars will change, war will give place to peace 
and peace to war, and from every harsh peace there has 
always emerged a more extensive preparation for war. The 
harshest of peace treaties — the Peace of Tilsit — has gone 
down in history as a turning-point towards the time when the 
German people began to swing round; when they retreated to 
Tilsit, to Russia, they were actually gaining time, waiting 
for the international situation that had, at one time, fa- 
voured Napoleon — he was another plunderer like Hohenzol- 
lern or Hindenburg — waiting until the situation changed, 
until the mentality of the German people, tormented by 
decades of Napoleonic wars and defeats, had recuperated and 
the German people were resuscitated. That is what history 
teaches us, that is why all despair and empty phrases are 
criminal, that is why everyone will say yes, the old 
imperialist wars are ending — an historical turning-point has 

Our revolution has been one long triumph since October, 
and now the lengthy times of hardship have come, we do 
not know for how long, but we do know that it will be a long 
and difficult period of defeats and retreats, because the align- 
ment of forces is what it is, because by retreating we shall 
give the people a chance to recuperate. We shall make it 
possible for every worker and peasant to realise the truth 
that will enable him to understand that new wars waged by 
the imperialist plunderers against the oppressed peoples 
are beginning, and every worker and peasant will realise 
that we must rise in defence of the fatherland, because we 
have been defencists since October. Since October 25 we 
have said openly that we stand for the defence of the 
fatherland, because we have a fatherland, the one from which 
we have driven the Kerenskys and Chernovs, because we 
have torn up the secret treaties, because we have crushed 
the bourgeoisie — badly so far, but we shall learn to do it 

Comrades, there is another important difference between 
the condition of the German people and of the Russian 
people who have suffered a severe defeat at the hands of the 



German invaders — there is a tremendous difference that 
must be mentioned, although I have already touched upon 
it briefly in the preceding part of my speech. Comrades, 
when the German people, over a hundred years ago, entered 
a period of the most cruel wars of conquest, a period when 
they had to retreat and conclude one shameful treaty after 
another before they were awakened — at that time the German 
people were weak and backward, just that and nothing more. 
They had against them not only the military forces and the 
might of the conqueror Napoleon, they had against them 
a country that was far above Germany in the revolutionary 
and political sense and in every other respect, a country 
that had risen far above all others, a country that had reached 
the top. That country was far above the people who were 
languishing in subjection to the imperialists and landown- 
ers. A people that, I repeat, had been nothing but a weak 
and backward people, managed to learn from its bitter les- 
sons and to raise itself up. We are in a better position; we 
are not merely a weak and backward people, we are the people 
who have been able — not because of any special services or 
of historical predestination, but because of a definite con- 
junction of historical circumstances — who have been able 
to accept the honour of raising the banner of the international 
socialist revolution. (Applause.) 

I am well aware, comrades, that the banner is in weak 
hands, I have said that outright several times already, and 
the workers of the most backward country will not be able 
to hold that banner unless the workers of all advanced coun- 
tries come to their aid. The socialist reforms that we have 
accomplished are far from perfect, they are weak and 
insufficient; they will serve as a guide to the advanced West- 
European workers who will say to themselves, "The Russians 
haven't made a very good beginning on the job that has to be 
done"; the important thing is that our people are not merely 
a weak and backward people as compared with the Germans, 
they are the people who have raised the banner of revolu- 
tion. Although the bourgeoisie of any country you like are 
filling the columns of their press with slander of the Bol- 
sheviks, although the voice of the imperialist press in France, 
Britain, Germany, etc., curses the Bolsheviks in unison, 
you will not find a meeting of workers in any country at 



which the names and slogans of our socialist government 
give rise to bursts of indignation. (Voice: "That's a lie!") No, 
it is not, it is the truth, and anyone who has been in Germany, 
Austria, Switzerland or America during the past few months 
will tell you it is the truth and not a lie, that the names and 
slogans of representatives of Soviet power in Russia are greet- 
ed with the greatest enthusiasm by the workers and that, 
despite all the lies of the bourgeoisie of Germany, France, 
etc., the working-class masses have realised that no matter 
how weak we may be, their cause is being served here in 
Russia. Yes, our people have a very heavy burden to bear, 
the burden they have themselves taken up; but a people that 
has been able to establish Soviet power cannot perish. Again 
I repeat — there is not a single politically conscious socialist, 
not a single worker among those who think over the history of 
the revolution, who can dispute the fact that Soviet power — 
despite all the defects that I know only too well and fully 
appreciate — is the highest type of state, the direct successor 
to the Paris Commune. It has ascended a step higher than 
the other European revolutions so that we are not experienc- 
ing the difficult conditions that the German people experi- 
enced a hundred years ago; the change in the balance of 
forces among the plunderers, taking advantage of the con- 
flict and satisfying the demands of plunderer Napoleon, 
plunderer Alexander I and the plundering British monarchy — 
that was the only thing left, the one chance, for the Ger- 
man people, oppressed by feudalism; and yet the German 
people did not perish from the Peace of Tilsit. But we, I say 
again, have better conditions, we have a powerful ally in 
all West-European countries, the international socialist 
proletariat, the proletariat that is on our side no matter 
what our enemies may say. (Applause.) True, it is not easy 
for that ally to raise his voice, any more than it was easy 
for us until the end of February 1917. That ally is living in 
the underground, under conditions of the military prison 
into which all imperialist countries have been turned, but 
he knows us and understands our cause; it is difficult for 
him to come to our aid, and Soviet troops, therefore, will 
need much time and patience and will have to go through 
many trials before the time comes when he will aid us — we 
shall use even the slightest chance of procrastination, for 



time is working on our side. Our cause is gaining strength, 
the forces of the imperialists are weakening, and no matter 
what trials and defeats may emerge from the "Tilsit" peace, 
we are beginning the tactics of withdrawal and, once more 
I say it, there is no doubt the politically-conscious proletar- 
iat and, likewise, the politically-conscious peasants are on 
our side, and we shall be able not only to make heroic at- 
tacks, but also to make a heroic retreat and we shall wait 
until the international socialist proletariat comes to our aid 
and shall then begin a second socialist revolution that will 
be world-wide in its scope. (Applause.) 

Pravda (Sotsial-Demokrat) 
Nos. 47 and 48, March 16 
and 17, 1918 

Published according to 
the verbatim report, 
collated with the Pravda text 





Comrades, had I desired to find a confirmation of what 
was said in my first speech about the nature of the revolu- 
tionary war that was proposed to us, the best and clearest 
confirmation would have been given me by the report of 
the representative of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries. 82 
I think it will be most expedient if I quote his speech from 
the verbatim report and we shall see what arguments they 
adduce in confirmation of their propositions. 

Here is a specimen of the arguments on which they rely. 
There has been talk here of the volost gathering. 83 Those 
who consider this meeting a volost gathering can resort to 
such arguments, but it is clear that these people are repeat- 
ing our words but are incapable of thinking them out. 
People repeat what the Bolsheviks taught the Left S.R.s 
when the latter were still among the Rights, and when they 
speak it is evident that they have learnt by rote what we 
said, but they have not understood on what it was based, 
and now they repeat it. Tsereteli and Chernov were defenc- 
ists, and now we are defencists, we are "traitors", we are 
"betrayers". The accomplices of the bourgeoisie speak here 
about a volost gathering — they make eyes when they say 
this — but every worker understands very well the aims of 
the defencism by which Tsereteli and Chernov were guided 
and the grounds which cause us to be defencists. 

If we were to support the Russian capitalists who wanted 
to be given the Dardanelles, Armenia and Galicia, as it 
was written in the secret treaty, that would be defencism 



in the spirit of Chernov and Tsereteli, and that defencism 
was disgraceful then, but now our defencism is honourable. 

And when, alongside such arguments, in the verbatim 
report of Kamkov's speech I find twice repeated the state- 
ment that the Bolsheviks are agents of German imperialism 
(applause from the Right), a harsh term — I am very glad 
that all those who pursued Kerensky's policy emphasise it 
by their applause. (Applause.) And indeed, of course, it 
is not for me to object to harsh words. I shall never raise any 
objection to that. Only, in order to be harsh one must have 
the right to be so, and the right to be harsh is given by one's 
words not differing from one's deeds. That is the little con- 
dition which many intellectuals do not appreciate, but 
which the workers and peasants have grasped even at volost 
gatherings — it is such a meagre thing, the volost gathering — 
they have grasped it both at volost gatherings and in Soviet 
organisations, and their word does not differ from their 
deed. But we are very well aware that they, the Left 
S.R.s, remained in the party of the Right S.R.s until October, 
during the time when the latter were sharing the rewards of 
office, when they acted as agents because they had been 
promised ministerial posts in return for keeping silent about 
the secret treaties. (Applause.) But it is quite impossible 
to call agents of imperialism people who actually proclaimed 
war against it, tore up the treaties and undertook the risk 
that this involved, undertook to drag out the negotiations in 
Brest, knowing that this would ruin the country, endured 
the military attack and a series of unprecedented defeats, 
and did not conceal the slightest thing from the people. 

Martov has assured us here that he has not read the treaty. 
Let those who like to, believe him. We know that these people 
are accustomed to read a lot of newspapers, but they have 
not read the treaty. (Applause.) Let those who wish, 
believe it. But I tell you that, while the party of the S.R.s 
knows very well that we are giving way in the face of vio- 
lence, which has been fully exposed by us, that we are doing 
so deliberately, frankly saying that we are unable to fight 
just now but are giving way — history knows of a number of 
most shameful treaties and a number of wars — when people 
in reply to this produce the word "agents", this harshness 



exposes them, and when they assure us that they disclaim 
responsibility for what they are doing — is it not hypocrisy, 
when people disclaim responsibility but continue to be in the 
government? I maintain that when they say that they dis- 
claim responsibility — they do not divest themselves of it, 
and they are quite wrong in thinking this is a volost gather- 
ing. No, this is everything that is honest and best among 
the working masses. (Applause.) This is no bourgeois par- 
liament to which people are elected once or twice a year to 
take their seats and receive a salary. These are people sent 
from the provinces and tomorrow they will be in the provinces 
and will relate that if the party of Left S.R.s is losing votes, 
it deserves to, because the party which acts in this way is the 
same soap bubble among the peasantry as it proved to be 
among the working class. (Applause, voices: "Quite right.") 
Further, I will quote you one more passage from Kam- 
kov's speech to show how every representative of the working 
and exploited people reacts to it. "When yesterday 
Comrade Lenin asserted here that Comrades Tsereteli and 
Chernov and others had demoralised the army, can we really 
not find the courage to say that Lenin and I also demoral- 
ised the army?" He is a long way wide of the mark. (Ap- 
plause.) He has heard that we were defeatists, and he has 
recalled this when we have ceased to be defeatists. He has 
recalled it at the wrong time. They have learnt the word 
by heart, they have a revolutionary-sounding toy rattle 
to play with, but they are incapable of giving some thought 
to the actual state of affairs. (Applause.) I assert that out 
of a thousand volost gatherings where Soviet power has 
been consolidated, in more than nine hundred there are 
people who will tell the Party of Left S.R.s that they do 
not deserve any confidence. They will say — all right; we 
demoralised the army and we must recall that now. But 
how did we demoralise the army? We were defeatists at the 
time of the tsar, but at the time of Tsereteli and Chernov 
we were not defeatists. We published in Pravda a procla- 
mation which Krylenko, who was then still being persecuted, 
addressed to the army: "Why I am going to Petrograd." He 
said: "We are not calling on you for mutinies." That was not 
demoralisation of the army. Those who declared this war to 
be a great war were the ones who demoralised the army. 



It was Tsereteli and Chernov who demoralised the army 
because they spoke grand words to the people, words which 
many Left Socialist-Revolutionaries were accustomed to 
throw out at random. It is easy to play with words, but the 
Russian people at volost gatherings are accustomed to think 
over them and take them seriously. If, however, the people 
were told that we were striving for peace and discussing 
the conditions of the imperialist war, then I ask: and what 
about the secret treaties and the June offensive? That is 
how they demoralised the army. If they spoke to the people 
about the struggle against the imperialists, about defence 
of the homeland, the people asked themselves: do they seize 
the capitalists by the scruff of the neck somewhere? — that 
is how they demoralised the army, and that is why I said, 
and no one has refuted it, it would have been the salvation 
of the army if we had taken power in March or April, and 
if instead of the furious hatred of the exploiters because we 
suppressed them — they quite justifiably hate us — if instead 
of this they had put the interests of the homeland of the work- 
ing and exploited people higher than the interests of the 
homeland of Kerensky and Ryabushinsky's secret treaties, 
and of designs on Armenia, Galicia and the Dardanelles, 
that would have spelt salvation. And in this connection — 
beginning with the great Russian Revolution, and especially 
from March, when a half-hearted appeal to the peoples of 
all countries 84 was issued — the government, which issued 
the appeal that called for the overthrow of the bankers of 
all countries, was itself sharing profits and favours with the 
bankers — that is what demoralised the army and why the 
army could not keep going. (Applause.) 

And I assert that we — beginning from this appeal of Kry- 
lenko's, which was not the first, 85 and which I am recalling 
because it stuck in my mind — we did not demoralise the 
army but said: hold the front — the sooner you take power 
the easier will it be to retain it, and to say now: we are against 
civil war and for an uprising — how unworthy this is and how 
despicable this chatter of some people. When this reaches the 
countryside and when the soldiers there, who have seen 
war not as the intellectuals have, and who know that it is 
easy to wave only a cardboard sword, when they say that 
at the critical moment they, unshod, badly clothed and 



suffering, were helped by being driven into an offensive — 
they are now being told that it doesn't matter that there 
will be no army, there will be an uprising instead. To drive 
the people against a regular army with superior technical 
equipment — that is criminal, and we, as socialists, taught that 
it is so. Indeed, the war taught a great deal, not only that 
people suffered, but also that those who have the greatest 
technical equipment, organisation and discipline, and the 
best machines, will gain the upper hand; the war taught 
this, and it is excellent that it did so. It has to be learnt 
that it is impossible to live in modern society without 
machines, without discipline — one has either to master modern 
techniques or be crushed. Years of most painful suffering 
have taught the peasants what war is. And when anyone 
goes speech-making at the volost gatherings, when the 
party of Left S.R.s goes there, they will receive well-merited 
punishment. (Applause.) 

One more example, another quotation from Kamkov's 
speech. (He reads it.) 

It is sometimes surprisingly easy to raise questions; only 
there is a saying — an impolite, rude one — which refers to 
such questions — I'm afraid I can't change the proverb — 
I will remind you of it: one fool can ask more questions than 
ten wise men can answer. 

Comrades, in the quotation I have just read out I am 
invited to answer the question: will the respite last one week, 
two weeks, or will it last more? I assert that at any volost 
gathering or at any factory a person who in the name of 
a serious party comes out with such a question will be 
laughed at by the people and chased away, because at any 
volost gathering they will understand that there is no point 
in raising questions about something that cannot be known. 
That will be understood by any worker and peasant. (Ap- 
plause.) If you absolutely insist on an answer, I will tell 
you that of course any Left S.R. who writes in the newspa- 
pers or speaks at meetings will say what this duration depends 
on: it depends on when Japan attacks, with what forces, 
and what resistance it encounters; on the extent to which 
the Germans get into difficulties in Finland, in the Ukraine; 
on when the offensive on all fronts begins; on how it 
develops; on the further course of the internal conflict 



in Austria and Germany, and on many other things as well. 

Therefore, when at a serious meeting people with an air 
of triumph raise the question: answer me, what kind of a 
respite will it be? — I say that such people will be chased out 
of workers' and peasants' meetings by those who understand 
that after three years of war torment, every week of respite 
is a very great boon. (Applause.) And I assert that whatever 
the abuse now heaped on us here, if tomorrow all the abusive 
terms addressed to us from the Rights, almost-Rights, near- 
Rights, Left S.R.s, Cadets, and Mensheviks were collected 
together and published, even if some hundreds of poods 
were the result, as far as I am concerned all this would weigh 
as light as a feather compared with the fact that among us 
in the Bolshevik group nine-tenths of its representatives have 
said: we know war and we see that now, when we have 
secured this short respite, it is an advantage for the recovery 
of our sick army. And at every peasant meeting nine-tenths 
of the peasants will say what everyone who concerns himself 
with the matter knows, and when able to help in any way 
we have not rejected and do not reject any practical proposal. 

We have gained the possibility of a respite, even if only 
for twelve days, thanks to the policy which has countered 
revolutionary phrase-making and "public" opinion. When 
Kamkov and the Left S.R.s play a game with you and make 
eyes at you, then, on the one hand, they are making eyes 
at you and, on the other, they are saying to the Constitutional- 
Democrats: put that down in our favour, indeed, we are 
heart and soul with you. (Voice from the hall: "It's a lie.") 
And when one of the representatives of the S.R.s, apparently 
not even of the Lefts, but of the super-Lefts, a Maximalist, 
spoke about phrase-making, he said that phrase-making 
was everything that concerned honour. (A voice: "Quite 
right.") Well, of course, in the Right-wing camp they call 
out "quite right"; this exclamation is pleasanter to me than 
the exclamation "it's a lie", although that does not impress 
me in the slightest either. But if I were to accuse them of 
phrase-making without giving any clear and precise confirma- 
tion of it, but the fact is I quoted two examples and I took 
them not from my imagination but from actual occurrence. 

Remember, were not the representatives of the S.R.s 



in the same situation when in 1907 they gave their signatures 
to Stolypin that they would faithfully and truly serve the 
Emperor Nicholas II? I hope that I have learnt something 
from the long years of the revolution, and when I am defamed 
by accusations of treachery, I say: one must first of all 
be able to find one's way in history. If we wanted to alter 
the course of history and it turns out that it was we who 
altered course and not history — then execute us. History 
is not to be convinced by speeches, and history will show 
that we were right, that we brought the workers' organisa- 
tions into the Great October Revolution of 1917, but only 
thanks to the fact that we rose above phrase-making and 
knew how to look at the facts, to learn from them. And when 
now, on March 14-15, it has become clear that if we had 
fought we should have helped imperialism, we should have 
finally wrecked the transport system and lost Petrograd — we 
see that to play with words and wave a cardboard sword is use- 
less. But when Kamkov comes to me and asks "will this res- 
pite be for long?", it is impossible to give an answer because 
internationally there has not been an objective revolutionary 
situation. There cannot be a long respite for reaction now, 
because the objective situation is everywhere revolutionary, 
because everywhere the working-class masses are indignant, 
are at the limit of their patience, at the limit of exhaustion 
from the war; that is a fact. It is impossible to escape from 
this fact, and therefore I have been proving to you that there 
was a period when the revolution went ahead and we went 
in front and the Left S.R.s stepped out perkily behind us. 
(Applause.) But now a period has begun when we have to 
retreat in the face of overwhelming force. That is an abso- 
lutely concrete description. No one will rebut me on this. 
Historical analysis is bound to confirm it. Here you have our 
Marxist, almost Marxist, Martov, speaking ill of the volost 
gathering; he speaks ill of the closing down of newspapers; 
he boasts that the oppressed and offended newspapers were 
closed down because they were helping to overthrow Soviet 
power, he speaks ill of.... About this he does not keep silent. 
Such things he sets before you, but an attempt to answer the 
historical question put point-blank by me, whether it is the 
truth or not that since October we have made a triumphant 
advance (Voices from the Right: "No.") You say "no", 



but all these say "yes". I ask: can we now make a victorious 
advance in an offensive against world imperialism. We 
cannot, and everyone knows it. When this, a frank simple 
statement, is made forthrightly in order to teach people 
revolution — revolution is a profound, difficult and complex 
science — in order to teach both the workers and the peasants, 
the people who are making the revolution, how to do so, our 
enemies cry out: cowards, traitors, the flag has been aban- 
doned; they fall back on words, they wave their arms. No. 
The whole history of revolutions has shown many such 
revolutionary phrase-mongers and nothing is left of them 
but stench and smoke. (Applause.) 

Another example I cited, comrades, was that of Germany, 
of Germany which was crushed by Napoleon, of Germany 
which witnessed shameful peace alternating with wars. I am 
asked: are we going to observe the treaties for a long time? 
If it were a three-year-old child who asked me: are you going 
to observe the treaty or not? — it would be both pleasant 
and naive. But when grown-up Kamkov of the party of Left 
S.R.s asks it, I know a few adult workers and peasants will 
believe in the naivete, but the majority of them will say: 
"Stop being hypocritical." For the historical example I cited 
shows as clearly as can be that emancipatory wars of peoples 
that have lost an army — and that has happened more than 
once — of peoples crushed to the extent of complete loss of 
all their territory, crushed to such an extent that they have 
surrendered auxiliary corps to the conqueror for new annex- 
ationist campaigns — cannot be struck out of history, and 
can in no way be erased. If, however, the Left S.R. Kamkov, 
in rebutting me, said, as I saw in the verbatim report: "In 
Spain, however, there were revolutionary wars," he thereby 
confirmed what I am saying, indeed he hit out at himself. 
Spain and Germany precisely confirm my example that to 
decide the question of the historical period of annexationist 
wars on the basis of "are you going to observe the treaty and, 
when you violate it, when will they catch you...?" is indeed 
worthy of children. History tells us that every treaty results 
from a cessation of struggle and a change in the relationship 
of forces, that there have been peace treaties which were 
shattered in a few days, that there have been peace treaties 
which were shattered after a month, that there were 



periods of many years when Germany and Spain concluded 
peace and violated it after a few months, violated it several 
times, and in a series of wars the peoples learnt what waging 
war means. When Napoleon led German armies in order to 
strangle other peoples he taught them revolutionary war. 
Such was the course of history. 

That is why I tell you, comrades, that I am deeply con- 
vinced that the decision adopted by nine-tenths of our 
Bolshevik group 86 will be approved by nine-tenths of all 
the politically-conscious working people of Russia — workers 
and peasants. (Applause.) 

We have a means of checking whether I spoke the truth 
or whether I am mistaken, for you will go into the provinces 
and each one of you will report to the local Soviets, and 
everywhere there will be local decisions. I will say in con- 
clusion: do not succumb to provocation. The bourgeoisie 
knows what it is doing, the bourgeoisie knows why it rejoiced 
in Pskov, rejoiced recently in Odessa, the bourgeoisie of the 
Vinnichenkos, of the Ukrainian Kerenskys, of Tsereteli 
and Chernov. It rejoiced because it understood perfectly what 
a tremendous mistake in diplomacy, in taking account of 
the situation, Soviet power had committed by trying to 
wage war with a fleeing, sick army. The bourgeoisie is trying 
to draw you into the pitfall of war. One has not only to attack 
but also to retreat. Every soldier knows that. Realise that 
the bourgeoisie is trying to draw both you and us into a trap. 
Realise that the whole bourgeoisie and all its voluntary and 
involuntary accomplices are setting this trap. You will be 
able to endure the most severe defeats and to maintain the 
most difficult positions, and by retreating to gain time. 
Time is on our side. The imperialists, having glutted them- 
selves, will burst, and in their womb a new giant is devel- 
oping; it is growing more slowly than we should like, but 
it is growing, it will come to our aid, and when we see that 
it is beginning to strike its first blow, we shall say: the time 
for retreat has come to an end, the era of the world offensive 
and the era of the victory of the world socialist revolution 
is beginning. (Stormy applause, continuing for a long time.) 

Pravda No. 49 
March 19, 1918 

Published according to 
the verbatim report, 
collated with the Pravda text 





The Congress confirms (ratifies) the peace treaty signed 
by our representatives at Brest-Litovsk on March 3, 1918. 

The Congress recognises as correct the actions of the Central 
Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars 
in deciding to conclude the present incredibly harsh, rapa- 
cious and humiliating peace in view of our having no army 
and of the extreme war weariness of the people, who in 
their distress have received no support from the bourgeoisie 
and bourgeois intelligentsia, but have seen that distress 
made use of for selfish class purposes. 

The Congress also recognises the undoubted correctness 
of the actions of the peace delegation that refused to enter 
into a detailed discussion on the German peace terms, be- 
cause those terms were imposed on us in the form of an obvious 
ultimatum and by undisguised force. 

The Congress most insistently urges upon all workers, 
soldiers and peasants, all the working and oppressed masses, 
the main, immediate and most urgent task of the moment — 
the improvement of the discipline and self-discipline of 
the working people; the creation throughout the country 
of strong, well-founded organisations that cover, as far as 
possible, all production and distribution; a ruthless struggle 
against the chaos, disorganisation and economic ruin which 
are historically inevitable as the legacy of a most agonising 
war, but which are, at the same time, the main obstacle to 
the complete victory of socialism and the strengthening of 
the foundations of socialist society. 

Today, after the October Revolution, after the overthrow 
of the political power of the bourgeoisie in Russia, after 



our denunciation and publication of all secret imperialist 
treaties, after the cancellation of the foreign loans, after 
the workers' and peasants' government has proposed a just 
peace to all peoples without exception, Russia, having 
escaped from the clutches of the imperialist war, has the 
right to announce that she is not a participant in the 
plunder and suppression of other countries. 

The Russian Soviet Federative Republic, having unani- 
mously condemned predatory wars, from now on deems it 
its right and its duty to defend the socialist fatherland against 
all possible attacks by any of the imperialist powers. 

The Congress therefore deems it the unconditional duty 
of all working people to muster all forces to re-establish 
and improve the defence potential of our country, to re- 
establish its military strength on the basis of a socialist 
militia and the universal military training of all adolescents 
and adults of both sexes. 

The Congress expresses its absolute confidence that 
Soviet power, which has valiantly fulfilled all the obligations 
of the international solidarity of the workers of all countries 
in their struggle for socialism against the yoke of capital, 
will in future do everything possible to promote the interna- 
tional socialist movement, to secure and shorten the road 
leading mankind to deliverance from the yoke of capital 
and from wage slavery, to the creation of a socialist society 
and to an enduring, just peace between the peoples. 

The Congress is firmly convinced that the international 
workers' revolution is not far away, that the full victory of 
the socialist proletariat is assured despite the fact that the 
imperialists of all countries do not hesitate to use the most 
brutal means for the suppression of the socialist movement. 

Pravda (Sotsial-Demokrat) 
No. 47, March 16, 1918 

Published according to 
the Pravda text, 
collated with the manuscript 




Since the conclusion of the Brest peace, some comrades 
who call themselves "Left Communists" have formed an 
"Opposition" in the Party, and in consequence of this their 
activity is slipping further and further towards a completely 
disloyal and impermissible violation of Party discipline. 

Comrade Bukharin has refused to accept the post of mem- 
ber of the C.C. to which he was appointed by the Party 

Comrades Smirnov, Obolensky and Yakovleva have resigned 
from their posts as People's Commissars and as business 
manager of the Supreme Economic Council. 

These are absolutely disloyal, uncomradely actions that 
violate Party discipline, and such behaviour was and remains 
a step towards a split on the part of the above-mentioned 

Written in the second half 
of March 1918 

First published in 1929 
in Lenin Miscellany XI 

Published according to 
the manuscript 

Here the manuscript breaks off. — Ed. 





...* The Soviet press has devoted excessive space and 
attention to the petty political issues, the personal questions 
of political leadership by which the capitalists of all coun- 
tries have striven to divert the attention of the masses from 
the really important, profound and fundamental questions 
of our life. In this connection we are faced with the need to 
solve almost anew a problem for the solution of which all 
the material requisites are available, only awareness of 
the urgency of this problem and readiness to solve it being 
absent. This problem is how to convert the press from an 
organ mainly devoted to communicating the political news 
of the day into a serious organ for educating the mass of the 
population in economics. We shall have to ensure, and we 
shall ensure, that the press serving the Soviet masses will 
devote less space to questions of the personal composition 
of the political leadership, or to questions of the tenth-rate 
political measures that comprise the commonplace activity 
and routine work of all political institutions. Instead the 
press will have to give priority to labour questions in their 
immediately practical setting. The press must become the 
organ of the labour commune in the sense of giving publicity 
to just what the leaders of capitalist enterprises used to try 
to conceal from the masses. For the capitalist the internal 
organisation of his enterprise was something veiled by trade 

The beginning of the verbatim report has been lost. — Ed. 



secrets from the eyes of the outside world, something over 
which, it seems, he wanted to be omnipotent and in sole 
command, hidden not only from criticism, not only from 
outside interference, but also from outside eyes. For the 
Soviet government, on the contrary, it is the organisation of 
labour in any particular large enterprises, in any particular 
village communes that is the chief, fundamental and urgent 
question of all social life. Our first and main means for 
increasing the self-discipline of the working people and for 
passing from the old, good-for-nothing methods of work, 
or methods of shirking work, in capitalist society, must be 
the press, revealing shortcomings in the economic life of 
each labour commune, ruthlessly branding these shortcom- 
ings, frankly laying bare all the ulcers of our economic 
life, and thus appealing to the public opinion of the working 
people for curing these ulcers. Let there be ten times less 
newspaper material (perhaps it would be good if there were 
100 times less) devoted to so-called current news, but let us 
have, distributed in hundreds of thousands and millions of 
copies, a press that acquaints the whole population with the 
exemplary arrangement of affairs in a few state labour com- 
munes which surpass the others. Each factory, each artel 
and agricultural enterprise, each village that goes over to 
the new agriculture by applying the law on socialisation 
of the land, is now, as one of the democratic bases of Soviet 
power, an independent commune with its own internal organ- 
isation of labour. In each of these communes, an increase in 
the self-discipline of the working people, their ability to 
work together with managing experts, even from the bour- 
geois intelligentsia, their achievement of practical results 
in the sense of raising labour productivity, economising 
human labour and safeguarding output from the unprece- 
dented thieving from which we are suffering immeasur- 
ably at the present time — that is what should form the main 
content of our Soviet press. That is the way in which we can 
and must bring it about that the force of example becomes 
first of all a morally essential, and later a compulsorily 
introduced, pattern for organising labour in the new Soviet 

In capitalist society there have been repeated examples 
of the organisation of labour communes by people who hoped 


peacefully and painlessly to convince mankind of the advan- 
tages of socialism and to ensure its adoption. Such a stand- 
point and such methods of activity evoke wholly legitimate 
ridicule from revolutionary Marxists because, under the 
conditions of capitalist slavery, to achieve any radical 
changes by means of isolated examples would in fact be 
a completely vain dream, which in practice has led either 
to moribund enterprises or to the conversion of these 
enterprises into associations of petty capitalists. 

This habitual attitude of ridicule and scorn towards the 
importance of example in the national economy is 
sometimes evident even now among people who have not 
thoroughly considered the radical changes that began from 
the time of the conquest of political power by the proletar- 
iat. Now, when the land has ceased to be private property, 
when the factories have almost ceased to be private property 
and will undoubtedly cease to be such in the very near fu- 
ture (it will be no trouble at all for the Soviet government 
in its present situation to introduce the appropriate 
decrees), the example of the labour commune, which solves 
organisational problems better than any other means, has 
acquired tremendous significance. It is just now that we 
must see to it that the mass of unusually valuable material 
available in the form of the experience of the new organisa- 
tion of production in individual towns, in individual enter- 
prises, in individual village communes, becomes the posses- 
sion of the masses. 

We are still under considerable pressure from the old 
public opinion imposed by the bourgeoisie. If we look at 
our newspapers, it is easy to see what a disproportionately 
large place we still devote to questions raised by the bour- 
geoisie, questions with which it seeks to divert the attention 
of the working people from the concrete practical tasks of 
socialist reconstruction. We must convert — and we shall 
convert — the press from an organ for purveying sensations, 
from a mere apparatus for communicating political news, 
from an organ of struggle against bourgeois lying — into an 
instrument for the economic re-education of the masses, 
into an instrument for telling the masses how to organise 
work in a new way. Enterprises or village communes which 
do not respond to any appeals and demands for restoring 



self-discipline and raising labour productivity will be entered 
on a "black list" by the socialist parties and will either be 
put in the category of sick enterprises in regard to which 
measures have to be taken for their rehabilitation by means 
of special arrangements — special steps and statutes — or 
they will be put in the category of punished enterprises 
which are liable to closure and whose participants must be 
handed over to a people's court. Introducing publicity in 
this sphere will by itself be a vast reform and will serve to 
draw the broad mass of the people into independent partic- 
ipation in deciding these questions, which most closely 
concern the masses. The reason why so little has been done 
in this respect up to now is that what was kept hidden from 
public knowledge in individual enterprises and communes 
has remained a secret as of old, which was understandable 
under capitalism but which is absolutely absurd and sense- 
less in a society that wants to achieve socialism. The force 
of example, which could not be displayed in capitalist 
society, will be of enormous importance in a society that has 
abolished private ownership of land and factories, not only 
because, perhaps, good examples will be followed here, but 
also because a better example of the organisation of produc- 
tion will be accompanied inevitably by a lightening of 
labour and an increase in the amount of consumption for 
those who have carried out this better organisation. And 
here, in connection with the importance of the press as an 
organ for the economic reorganisation and re-education of 
the masses, we must also touch on the importance of the 
press in organising competition. 

The organisation of competition must take a prominent 
place among the tasks of the Soviet government in the eco- 
nomic sphere. In their criticism of socialism, bourgeois 
economists have often declared that socialists deny the 
importance of competition or give it no place in their system 
or, as the economists express it, in their plan of social organ- 
isation. There is no need to say how stupid is this accusa- 
tion, which has often been refuted in the socialist press. 
The bourgeois economists, as always, have confused the 
question of the specific features of capitalist society with the 
question of a different form of organisation of competition. 
The socialists' attacks have never been directed against 


competition as such, but only against market competition. 
Market competition, however, is a special form of competi- 
tion characteristic of capitalist society and consisting in 
a struggle of individual producers for a livelihood and for 
influence, for a place in the market. The abolition of compe- 
tition as a struggle of producers that is connected only with 
the market does not at all mean the abolition of competi- 
tion — on the contrary, the abolition of commodity produc- 
tion and capitalism makes it possible to organise compe- 
tition in its human instead of its bestial forms. It is just 
at the present time in Russia, in view of the foundations of 
political power that have been created by the Soviet Repub- 
lic, and of the economic characteristics of Russia with her 
vast expanses and tremendous diversity of conditions — it 
is just now that organisation of competition on a socialist 
basis in our country should be one of the most important and 
rewarding tasks in the reorganisation of society. 

We are for democratic centralism. And it must be clearly 
understood how vastly different democratic centralism is 
from bureaucratic centralism on the one hand, and from 
anarchism on the other. The opponents of centralism con- 
tinually put forward autonomy and federation as a means 
of struggle against the uncertainties of centralism. As a 
matter of fact, democratic centralism in no way excludes 
autonomy, on the contrary, it presupposes the necessity of 
it. As a matter of fact, even federation, if carried out within 
limits that are rational from an economic point of view, 
if it is based on important national distinctions that give 
rise to a real need for a certain degree of state separateness — 
even federation is in no way in contradiction to democratic 
centralism. Under a really democratic system, and the more 
so with the Soviet organisation of the state, federation is 
very often merely a transitional step towards really demo- 
cratic centralism. The example of the Russian Soviet Repub- 
lic shows us particularly clearly that federation, which we 
are introducing and will introduce, is now the surest step 
towards the most lasting union of the various nationalities 
of Russia into a single democratic centralised Soviet state. 

And just as democratic centralism in no way excludes 
autonomy and federation, so, too, it in no way excludes, but 
on the contrary presupposes, the fullest freedom of various 



localities and even of various communes of the state in de- 
veloping multifarious forms of state, social and economic 
life. There is nothing more mistaken than confusing demo- 
cratic centralism with bureaucracy and routinism. Our 
task now is to carry out democratic centralism in the eco- 
nomic sphere, to ensure absolute harmony and unity in the 
functioning of such economic undertakings as the railways, 
the postal and telegraph services, other means of transport, 
and so forth. At the same time, centralism, understood in 
a truly democratic sense, presupposes the possibility, creat- 
ed for the first time in history, of a full and unhampered 
development not only of specific local features, but also of 
local inventiveness, local initiative, of diverse ways, meth- 
ods and means of progress to the common goal. The task 
of organising competition, therefore, has two aspects: on the 
one hand, it requires the carrying out of democratic central- 
ism as described above, on the other hand, it makes it 
possible to find the most correct and most economical way 
of reorganising the economic structure of Russia. In general 
terms, this way is known. It consists in the transition to 
large-scale economy based on machine industry, in the 
transition to socialism. But the concrete conditions and 
forms of this transition are and must be diverse, depending 
on the conditions under which the advance aiming at the 
creation of socialism begins. Local distinctions, specific eco 
omic formations, forms of everyday life, the degree of prepared- 
ness of the population, attempts to carry out a particular 
plan — all these are bound to be reflected in the specific 
features of the path to socialism of a particular labour 
commune of the state. The greater such diversity — provided, 
of course, that it does not turn into eccentricity — the more 
surely and rapidly shall we ensure the achievement of both 
democratic centralism and a socialist economy. It only 
remains for us now to organise competition, i.e., to ensure 
publicity which would enable all communes in the state to 
learn how economic development has proceeded in various 
localities; to ensure, secondly, that the results of the advance 
towards socialism in one commune of the state are compa- 
rable with those in another; to ensure, thirdly, that the 
experience acquired in one commune can be repeated in 
practice by other communes; to ensure the possibility of 


an exchange of those material — and human — forces which 
have done well in any particular sphere of the national 
economy or of the state administration. Crushed by the capi- 
talist system, we cannot at present even imagine at all accu- 
rately what rich forces lie hidden in the mass of the working 
people, in the diversity of labour communes of a large state, 
in the forces of the intelligentsia, who have hitherto worked 
as lifeless, dumb executors of the capitalists' pre-determined 
plans, what forces are lying hidden and can reveal themselves 
given a socialist structure of society. What we have to do is 
only to clear the way for these forces. If we devote ourselves 
to the organisation of competition as a matter of state impor- 
tance, then — provided that Soviet principles of the state 
system are implemented, provided that private ownership 
of land, factories, etc., is abolished — the results are inevi- 
tably bound to show themselves and will dictate our further 
forms of construction. 


The resolution of the Extraordinary Congress of Soviets, 
which I referred to at the beginning, mentions, among other 
things, the need to create a harmonious and strong organi- 
sation.* At the present time the degree of organisation, both 
of Soviet institutions and of economic units operating within 
the bounds of Russia, is extremely low. It could be said that 
immense disorganisation prevails. 

But it would be incorrect to regard this as a state of ruin, 
collapse and decline. If the bourgeois press makes such an 
appraisal, it is clear that the interests of the capitalist class 
compel people to look at things in this way, or rather compel 
them to appear to look at them thus. In fact, however, any- 
one who is capable of looking at things at all historically 
will not doubt for a moment that the present state of disor- 
ganisation is a state of transition — of transition from the 
old to the new — a state of growth of what is new. The trans- 
ition from the old to the new, if it proceeds as sharply as it 
has in Russia since February 1917, presupposes of course 
a gigantic destruction of what has become obsolete and mori- 
bund in social life. And it is clear that the search for the new 

See this volume, p. 200.— Ed. 



cannot at once provide those definite, established, almost 
fixed and final forms which previously took shape in the 
course of centuries and lasted for centuries. The present 
Soviet institutions and the economic organisations which are 
characterised by the concept of workers' control in industry — 
those organisations are still in a period of ferment and in- 
stability. In these organisations, naturally, the aspect 
characterised by discussion and the airing of questions at 
meetings prevails over the business aspect. It could not be 
otherwise, for without drawing new sections of the people 
into socialist construction, without awakening to activity 
the broad masses hitherto asleep, there could be no question 
of any revolutionary change. The endless discussions and 
endless holding of meetings — about which the bourgeois 
press talks so much and so acrimoniously — is a necessary 
transition of the masses still completely unprepared for 
social construction, a transition from historical somnolence 
to new historical creativeness. There is absolutely nothing 
terrible in the fact that this transition is protracted in some 
places, or in the fact that the training of the masses in new 
work does not go forward with the rapidity which could be 
dreamt of by a man who is accustomed to work in isolation 
and does not understand what is involved in rousing hun- 
dreds, thousands and millions to independent political life. 
But in realising this we must also realise the turn that is 
now beginning in this respect. While Soviet institutions 
had not spread throughout Russia, while socialisation 
of the land and nationalisation of factories remained an 
exception to the general rule, it was natural that social 
management of the national economy (considered on a nation- 
wide scale) could not emerge from the stage of preliminary 
discussional preparation either, from the stage of discussion 
and interpretation. Just now a fundamental change is 
taking place, Soviet institutions have spread all over Russia. - 
From Great Russia they have spread to the vast majority 
of the other nationalities of Russia. Socialisation of the land 
in the countryside and workers' control in the towns have 
ceased to be exceptions; instead, they have become the rule. 

On the other hand, the extremely critical and even des- 
perate situation the country is in as regards ensuring at 
least the mere possibility of existence for the majority 


of the population, as regards safeguarding it from 
famine — these economic conditions urgently demand the 
achievement of definite practical results. The countryside 
could subsist on its own grain — there is no doubt of that — 
but it will be able to do so only if in actual fact an absolute- 
ly strict account is taken of all existing grain, and if it 
can be distributed among the whole population with the 
greatest economy and carefulness. Correct distribution 
requires correct organisation of transport. But it is transport 
that has suffered the worst destruction by war. And what 
is most of all necessary for the revival of transport in a 
country marked by such huge distances as Russia is harmo- 
nious; strong organisation and, perhaps, really millions of 
people working with the precision of clockwork. Now has 
come the turning-point when — without in any way ceasing 
to prepare the masses for participation in state and economic 
administration of all the affairs of society, and without in 
any way hindering their most detailed discussion of the new 
tasks (on the contrary, helping them in every way to carry 
out this discussion so that they independently think out and 
arrive at correct decisions) — we must at the very same time 
begin strictly to separate two categories of democratic func- 
tions: on the one hand, discussions and the airing of ques- 
tions at public meetings, and, on the other hand, the estab- 
lishment of strictest responsibility for executive functions 
and absolutely businesslike, disciplined, voluntary ful- 
filment of the assignments and decrees necessary for the 
economic mechanism to function really like clockwork. 
It was impossible to pass to this at once; some months ago 
it would have been pedantry or even malicious provocation 
to demand it. Generally speaking, this change cannot be 
brought about by any decree, by any prescription. But the 
time has come when the achievement of precisely this change 
is the pivot of all our revolutionary reforms. Now it has 
been prepared for, now the conditions for it have matured, 
now it is impossible to postpone it or wait for it any longer. 
Not long ago, in discussing the question of the reorganisation 
and correct planning of railway transport, the question 
arose of how far one-man managerial authority (which could 
be called dictatorial) is compatible with democratic organi- 
sations in general, with the collective principle in manage- 



ment especially, and with the Soviet socialist principle of 
organisation in particular. Undoubtedly, the opinion is 
very widely held that there can be no question of such com- 
patibility, that one-man dictatorial authority is incompat- 
ible with democracy, the Soviet type of state and collective 
management. Nothing could be more mistaken than this 

The democratic principle of organisation — in its highest 
form, in which the Soviets put into effect proposals and 
demands for the active participation of the masses not only 
in discussing general rules, decisions and laws, and in con- 
trolling their fulfilment, but also directly in their implemen- 
tation — implies that every representative of the masses, 
every citizen, must be put in such conditions that he can 
participate in the discussion of state laws, in the choice of his 
representatives and in the implementation of state laws. 
But it does not at all follow from this that we shall permit 
the slightest chaos or disorder as regards who is responsible 
in each individual case for definite executive functions, for 
carrying out definite orders, for controlling a definite joint 
labour process during a certain period of time. The masses 
must have the right to choose responsible leaders for them- 
selves. They must have the right to replace them, the right 
to know and check each smallest step of their activity. They 
must have the right to put forward any worker without 
exception for administrative functions. But this does not 
at all mean that the process of collective labour can remain 
without definite leadership, without precisely establishing 
the responsibility of the person in charge, without the strictest 
order created by the single will of that person. Neither railways 
nor transport, nor large-scale machinery and enterprises in 
general can function correctly without a single will linking 
the entire working personnel into an economic organ operat- 
ing with the precision of clockwork. Socialism owes its 
origin to large-scale machine industry. If the masses of the 
working people in introducing socialism prove incapable 
of adapting their institutions in the way that large-scale 
machine industry should work, then there can be no ques- 
tion of introducing socialism. That is why in the period we 
are now passing through, when the Soviet government and 
the dictatorship of the proletariat have grown sufficiently 


strong, when the main lines of the enemy opposing us, i.e., 
of the exploiters opposing us, have been sufficiently destroyed 
or rendered harmless, when the functioning of Soviet 
institutions has adequately prepared the mass of the popula- 
tion for independent participation in all spheres of social 
life — at the present moment we are immediately confronted 
by the tasks of strictly separating discussion and airing 
questions at meetings from unfailing execution of all 
instructions of the person in charge. This means separating 
the necessary, useful preparation of the masses for executing 
a certain measure and checking up on its execution, which 
is fully recognised by every Soviet, from the actual execution 
itself. The masses can now — this is guaranteed them by 
the Soviets — take all power into their hands and consolidate 
this power. But to prevent this resulting in the overlapping 
of authority and irresponsibility from which we are suffer- 
ing incredibly at the present time, it is necessary that for 
each executive function we should know precisely what 
persons, having been chosen to act as responsible leaders, 
bear responsibility for the functioning of the economic 
organism as a whole. This requires that as often as possible, 
when there is the slightest opportunity for it, responsible 
persons should be elected for one-man management in all 
sections of the economic organism as a whole. There must be 
voluntary fulfilment of the instructions of this individual 
leader, there must be a transition from the mixed form of 
discussions, public meetings, fulfilment — and at the same 
time criticism, checking and correction — to the strict regu- 
larity of a machine enterprise. The great majority of the 
labour communes of Russia, the mass of the workers and 
peasants, are already approaching this task or have already 
arrived at it. The Soviet government's task is to undertake 
the role of interpreting the fundamental change that is now 
beginning and of giving this necessity legal form. 


The slogan of practical ability and businesslike methods 
has enjoyed little popularity among revolutionaries. One 
can even say that no slogan has been less popular among 
them. It is quite understandable that as long as the revolu- 
tionaries' task consisted in destroying the old capitalist 



order they were bound to reject and ridicule such a slogan. 
For at that time this slogan in practice concealed the 
endeavour in one form or another to come to terms with capi- 
talism, or to weaken the proletariat's attack on the founda- 
tions of capitalism, to weaken the revolutionary struggle 
against capitalism. Quite clearly, things were bound to 
undergo a radical change after the proletariat had conquered 
and consolidated its power and work had begun on a 
wide scale for laying the foundations of a new, i.e., social- 
ist, society. Now, too, as was pointed out above, we have 
no right to weaken in the slightest degree either our work of 
convincing the mass of the population of the correctness of 
our ideas, or our work of destroying the resistance of the 
exploiters. But the main thing in the fulfilment of these 
two functions has already been achieved by us. The chief 
and urgent requirement now is precisely the slogan of practi- 
cal ability and businesslike methods. It follows that it is 
now an immediate, ripe and essential task to draw the bour- 
geois intelligentsia into our work. It would be ludicrously 
stupid to regard this drawing in of the intelligentsia as some 
kind of weakening of the Soviet system, some kind of depar- 
ture from the principles of socialism or some kind of inad- 
missible compromise with the bourgeoisie. To express such 
an opinion would be a meaningless repetition of words that 
refer to a quite different period of activity of the revolution- 
ary proletarian parties. On the contrary, precisely for ful- 
filling our revolutionary tasks, precisely in order that these 
tasks should not remain a utopia or a naive aspiration but 
actually become a reality — and be achieved immediately — 
precisely for the sake of this aim we must now put practical 
ability and businesslike methods in organisational work 
as our primary, immediate and chief task. What has to 
be done just now is to tackle from every aspect the practical 
erection of the edifice, the plan of which we outlined long 
ago, the foundations for which we have fought for vigorously 
enough and firmly enough won, the materials for which we 
have adequately collected and which now — having provided 
it with scaffolding and put on working clothes, which we are 
not afraid of dirtying with any auxiliary materials, and 
strictly fulfilling the instructions of those in charge of the 
practical work — we must build and build and build. 


The extent to which the changes in the formulation of 
our tasks are sometimes still not understood is evident, 
incidentally from the recent discussion on the role of the 
trade unions. 88 The view was expressed (supported by the 
Mensheviks, of course, with obviously provocatory aims, 
that is to say, with the aim of provoking us to take steps 
advantageous only to the bourgeoisie) that in the interests 
of preserving and strengthening the class independence of 
the proletariat the trade unions should not become state 
organisations. This view was camouflaged by specious and 
quite customary phrases learnt by heart about the struggle 
of labour against capital and the necessity for the class 
independence of the proletariat. In actual fact, however, this 
view was and is either a bourgeois provocation of the crudest 
kind or an extreme misunderstanding, a slavish repetition 
of the slogans of yesterday, as is shown by an analysis of 
the altered conditions of the present period of history. 
Yesterday the chief task of the trade unions was the struggle 
against capital and defence of the class independence of the 
proletariat. Yesterday the slogan of the day was distrust of 
the state, for it was the bourgeois state. Today the state is 
becoming and has become proletarian. The working class is 
becoming and has become the ruling class in the state. The 
trade unions are becoming and must become state organisa- 
tions which have prime responsibility for the reorganisation 
of all economic life on a socialist basis. Hence to apply the 
slogans of the old trade unionism to the present epoch would 
mean renouncing the socialist tasks of the working class. 

The same thing has to be said of the co-operatives. A co- 
operative is a little shop, and no changes, improvements 
or reforms alter the fact that it is a shop. The capitalist 
era taught socialists this view. And there is no doubt that 
these views correctly expressed the essence of the co-opera- 
tives as long as they remained a small appendage to the 
mechanism of the bourgeois system. But the point is that the 
position of the co-operatives undergoes a fundamental change 
from the time of the conquest of state power by the proletar- 
iat, from the moment that the proletarian state sets about 
systematic creation of the socialist order. Here quantity 
passes into quality. The co-operative, as a small island in 
capitalist society is a little shop. The co-operative, if it 



embraces the whole of society, in which the land is socialised 
and the factories nationalised, is socialism. The task of 
the Soviet government after the bourgeoisie has been exprop- 
riated politically and economically consists obviously (main- 
ly) in spreading co-operative organisations throughout 
society so as to make every citizen a member of a single 
nation-wide, or rather state-wide, co-operative. If we brush 
this task aside by referring to the class character of the work- 
ers' co-operatives, we shall prove to be reactionaries, hark- 
ing back from the era that began with the conquest of poli- 
tical power by the proletariat to the era that existed prior to 
that conquest. While capitalism existed the political and 
economic activity of the working class was marked by two 
tendencies. On the one hand, there was the tendency to settle 
down fairly comfortably under capitalism, which was fea- 
sible only for a small upper stratum of the proletariat. On 
the other hand, there was the tendency to lead the whole 
mass of working and exploited people towards the revolution- 
ary overthrow of capital in general. It is clear that when this, 
second tendency has gained the upper hand, when capital has 
been overthrown, and it is necessary to begin organising a 
nation-wide socialist co-operative, our view of the tasks and 
conditions of the co-operative movement undergoes a funda- 
mental change. We must enter into an agreement with the 
bourgeois co-operatives as well as with the proletarian co- 
operatives. We must not be afraid. It would be ridiculous 
if we were to fear an agreement with the bourgeois co-oper- 
atives, for we are the ruling power. We need an agreement 
enabling us to find practically feasible, convenient and 
suitable forms of transition from fragmentary, scattered co- 
operatives to a single, national co-operative. As the state 
power, we must not be afraid of an agreement with the bour- 
geois co-operatives, for such an agreement will inevitably 
mean their subordination to us. At the same time, we have 
to realise that we represent the new proletarian state power, 
that the working class has become the ruling class in the 
state. Hence the workers' co-operative must be at the head 
of the movement for converting the individual co-operatives 
into a single, national co-operative. The working class must 
not isolate itself from the rest of the population; on the con- 
trary, it must lead all sections of the population without 


exception in the matter of uniting them one and all in a 
single, national co-operative. What practical, immediately 
feasible, transitional measures are required for this is another 
question. But we must clearly realise and unequivocally 
decide that the whole point now is precisely this practical 
transition, that the proletarian state power must undertake 
it, test all reforms by experience and achieve the transition 
at all costs. 


In discussing the question of restoring the discipline and 
self-discipline of the working people, special mention should 
be made of the important role now devolving on the courts 
of law. In capitalist society, the court was mainly an 
instrument of oppression, an instrument of bourgeois exploi- 
tation. Hence the bounden duty of the proletarian revolu- 
tion lay not in reforming the judicial institutions (the task 
to which the Cadets and their henchmen, the Mensheviks 
and Right S.R.s, confined themselves), but in completely 
destroying and razing to its foundations the whole of the 
old judicial apparatus. The October Revolution fulfilled, and 
successfully fulfilled, this necessary task. In place of the 
old court, it began to establish a new, people's court or, 
rather, Soviet court, based on the principle of the partici- 
pation of the working and exploited classes — and only of 
these classes — in administering the state. The new court 
has been needed first and foremost for the struggle against 
the exploiters who are trying to restore their domination, 
or to defend their privileges, or secretly to smuggle through 
and secure by deception some particle of these privileges. 
But, in addition, the courts — if they are really organised on 
the principle of Soviet institutions — have another, still 
more important task. This task is to ensure the strictest 
discipline and self-discipline of the working people. We 
would be ridiculous Utopians if we were to imagine that such 
a task could be carried out on the morrow of the fall of bour- 
geois rule, i.e., in the first stage of the transition from capi- 
talism to socialism, or — without coercion. It is quite impos- 
sible to fulfil this task without coercion. We need the state, 
we need coercion. The Soviet courts must be the organ of 
the proletarian state carrying out such coercion. They have 



the immense task of educating the population in labour 
discipline. As yet, exceedingly little, or rather almost 
nothing, has been done by us in this respect. We must, 
however, achieve the organisation of such courts on the 
widest scale, with their activity extending to the entire 
working life of the country. Only such courts, provided the 
broad mass of the working and exploited population take 
part in them, will be able to ensure, through democratic 
forms conforming to the principles of the Soviet system, 
that aspirations for discipline and self-discipline do not 
remain vain aspirations. Only such courts will be able to 
ensure that we have a revolutionary authority, which we all 
recognise in words when speaking of the dictatorship of the 
proletariat, but instead of which we often see around us 
something as amorphous as jelly. Incidentally, it would be 
more correct to compare the state of society in which we live 
now not with a jelly, but with metal that is being melted to 
prepare a more stable alloy. 

Dictated March 28, 1918 

First published on April 14, 1929 
in Pravda No. 86 

Published according to 
the verbatim report 





March 30, 1918 

The decree on Soviet tribunals is in my opinion quite 
wrong and requires radical revision. 

It is incorrect to annul the decree on press tribunals 
without a preliminary summary (and discussion) of the 
results of their work. 

It is incorrect to establish the post of a one-man "tribune" 
outside the Collegium of the Commissariat for Justice. 
The result is something like the worst precedents of a "Pros- 

Instead of devoting attention to reforms of institutions, 
to petty or almost verbal reforms ("tribune"), attention 
should be directed to the practical results of the work of 
the Collegium for Justice in setting up a really revolutionary 
court that is rapid and mercilessly severe in dealing with 
counter-revolutionaries, hooligans, idlers and disorganisers. 




The Council of People's Commissars instructs the Com- 
missariat for Justice to revise the draft decree on tribunals 
in the direction of abolishing the one-man power of the 



"tribune" and laying chief stress not on petty alterations 
of the institutions set up since October 1917, but on the 
practical results to be achieved by setting up courts that 
will act really swiftly and with revolutionary ruthlessness 
against counter-revolutionaries, bribe-takers, disorganisers 
and violators of discipline. 

The final draft is to be published and submitted to the 

First published in 1933 
in Lenin Miscellany XXI 

Published according to 
the manuscript 




The majority of the articles in this publication appeared 
abroad in Sotsial-Demokrat (Central Organ of the Russian 
Social-Democratic Labour Party-Bolsheviks), which was 
issued from the end of 1914 to the beginning of 1917 in 
Switzerland. Only one large magazine article is taken from 
the periodical Kommunist 90 (only one issue of which ap- 
peared in 1915 in Switzerland). 

To understand correctly the connection between the in- 
dividual articles, one must bear in mind the chronological 
sequence of their publication in the newspaper. 

The articles are divided into two main categories. One 
part is devoted to an appraisal of the war and the political 
tasks arising from this appraisal. The other part examines 
internal Party relations, the struggle of groups, which for 
a long time seemed to short-sighted people to be "chaos" 
or a "personal conflict", and which in fact has now led, as 
everyone can see, to a demarcation of the real socialists 
from the lackeys of the bourgeoisie, the Lieberdans, 91 
Martovs and Co. 

Obviously, the first part or first category of articles is 
incomparably more important. No class-conscious worker 
who wishes to understand the development of the ideas of 
the international socialist revolution and its first victory 
on October 25, 1917, can manage without an acquaintance 
with these articles. 

N. Lenin 

Written in March 1918 

Published in 1918 in Published according to 

the collected articles Against the text of the collected articles 

the Stream, Publishing 
House of the Petrograd Soviet 
of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies 



1. A report to be compiled of what has been received 
in private banks, including in the report the liquidation 
of all affairs of each private bank. (Unanimous.) 

On the question of how to draw up the report, the 
following opinions expressed: 

(a) The former staff (the Commissariat for the State Bank 
having the right to remove some employees) of each private 
bank will be given an ultimatum requiring them to put in 
order in a very brief period of time all the affairs of the 
bank and to draw up a balance sheet in final form, firstly 
for December 14, 1917, 93 and, secondly, for the last day 
of operations. 

(b) Private banks, in fulfilling this function of compiling 
reports and liquidating all affairs of the bank, act exclu- 
sively as branches of the united People's Bank of the Rus- 
sian Republic and only for the purpose of liquidation, with- 
out carrying out any new operations. (Hanecki and 
Gukovsky and Lenin.) 

Special opinion of Spunde: 

The balance sheet for 14:XII:1917 should be drawn up 
by a special commission appointed by us. 

No need to draw up another balance sheet. 

Further operations, as from 14:XII:1917, to be carried 
out in the name of the People's Bank. 

All private banks, and also the State Bank, to be declared 
the united People's Bank of the Russian Republic. 

2. All the work of compiling reports to be under the su- 
pervision of the Commissariat for the State Bank: 

The largest possible number of experienced collaborators 
to be invited, including former employees of the State Bank 
and private banks. 




3. Banking policy, without being confined to national- 
isation of the banks, must gradually but steadily be directed 
towards converting the banks into a single apparatus 
for accounting and regulation of the socialistically organ- 
ised economic life of the country as a whole. 

Spunde and Lenin in favour. 
Gukovsky against. 

Hanecki abstains, considers this impossible to carry out. 

4. Extraordinary measures for opening the largest 
possible number of branches of the People's Bank through- 
out the country. 

These branches to be located in towns and villages so as 
to provide greatest convenience for the public. 
Existing branches of former private banks to be used as 
branches of the People's Bank. 

5. Declaration of inviolability of deposits (which, of 
course, does not diminish the right of the state to levy taxes). 

6. Free circulation of cheques. 

7. Full preservation of workers' control with regard to 
withdrawal of money from the banks. 

8. Limitation of withdrawals of money for consumer 
purposes to be retained. 

A series of improved facilities for the public to be 
introduced for the purpose of accelerating deposits of money 
in the banks and withdrawal of money from the banks, as 
well as simplification of formalities. 

9. Adoption of measures so that the population should 
keep in the banks all money not absolutely necessary for 
consumer purposes. Preparation of a law and practical steps 
for compulsory implementation of this principle. 

(Not to be published.) 

10. In their activity, all branches of the People's Bank 
within the bounds of the Federative Russian Soviet 
Republic are to be guided strictly by the instructions and 
directives of the central board of management, without 
having the right to establish any local rules and restrictions. 
Exceptions are permitted only with the consent of the cen- 
tral board of management. 

Written in March or April 1918 

First published in 1926 Published according to 

in the magazine Proletarakaya the manuscript 

Revolutsia No. 6 (53) 


APRIL 7, 1918 94 


(Lenin's appearance on the platform was greeted with a 
storm of applause.) We are now passing through the hardest 
months of the revolution, said Lenin. There is famine, 
which we must exert all our strength to combat, while 
the Right S.R.s and Mensheviks look on with malicious 
joy. Their tactics are the tactics of Dutov and Kornilov, 
the tactics of the officer cadets who organised an uprising 
in Moscow against the Soviet government. In this respect 
the Mensheviks, who are striving to overthrow the Soviet 
government, are on their side, are on the side of the bour- 
geoisie, and are thereby betraying us. When we apply the 
death penalty by shooting, they turn into Tolstoyans and 
shed crocodile tears, shouting about our cruelty. They have 
forgotten how, along with Kerensky, they drove the workers 
into the slaughter, while the secret treaties were hidden in 
their pockets. They have forgotten this and have turned 
into meek Christians, fretting about mercy. 

We cannot overcome our enemies without arms; they are 
very well aware of that but all the same they try to discredit 

We have to put the national economy in order, and this 
gigantic task is the more difficult because our revolution 
is the first to have gone so far along the path of social trans- 
formation. To lighten this difficult task, we have to learn, 
but to learn not from books, but from action, from expe- 
rience. Only Soviet power is any good for building the 



national economy, and therefore I am proposing that you 
should bring thousands of our comrades into the Soviets 
throughout the country. Besides that, we have to develop 
comradely discipline. The workers and peasants must 
realise that the land and factories belong to them and they 
must be as careful of them as of their own property. 

Only now, on looking back and seeing the utter helpless- 
ness of the bourgeoisie and the worthlessness of the sabotag- 
ing intelligentsia, am I certain of the tremendous progress 
we have made. In order to continue advancing successfully 
we must get rid of ignorance and negligence, but it is much 
more difficult to do that than to overthrow the idiot Roma- 
nov or the fool Kerensky. 

Germany is strangling us, Japan is attacking us. 95 And 
it is in this difficult period that the Mensheviks and Right 
S.R.s, those tender lambs, are shouting about our cruelty, 
forgetting the gallows that they erected for Comrade 
Shahumyan. 96 In reply to them, I can say: No, we do 
not reject the use of force by us against the exploiters. 

These tears of the Mensheviks and Right S.R.s evoked 
by our cruelty are their last attempt at taking part in the 
political life of the country and at the same time a sign 
of their weakness. We shall fight them mercilessly. We have 
to pay now for all the legacy of tsarism, for Nicholas's 
and Kerensky's rule. When, however, we have conquered 
disorganisation and apathy, then by our unceasing work 
we shall achieve the great victory of socialism. {Loud 
applause .) 

Izvestia Saratovskovo Soveta 
No. 71, 
April 13, 1918 

Published according to 
the newspaper text 



The following telegram must be sent by the direct line 
to Irkutsk (for Vladivostok): 

We consider the situation very serious and issue the 
most categorical warning to the comrades. Do not harbour 
any illusions: the Japanese will certainly attack. That is 
inevitable. Probably all the Allies without exception will 
help them. Hence it is necessary to begin preparations 
without the least delay and to prepare seriously, exerting 
every effort. Above all, attention must be devoted to correct 
withdrawal, retreat, and removal of stores and railway 
materials. Do not set yourselves unrealisable aims. Prepare 
to sap and blow up railway lines, and to remove rolling 
stock and locomotives; prepare minefields around Irkutsk 
or in the Transbaikal area. Twice every week inform us 
exactly how many locomotives and how much rolling stock 
have been removed, and how much remains. Otherwise 
we do not and shall not believe anything. We have no cur- 
rency notes now, but we shall have plenty as from the second 
half of April, but our help is conditional on your practical 
success in removing rolling stock and locomotives from 
Vladivostok, in preparing to blow up bridges and so forth. 


April 7 

Published in 1934 in the collection: 
V. I. Lenin, From the Epoch 
of the Civil War 

Published according to 
the manuscript 


APRIL 18, 1918 

One thing is clear at the present time: we shall not solve 
the financial problem in the immediate future, and shall 
not restore the financial machinery to its usual channels. 
That is clear to all. It must be said, however, that so far 
unfortunately none of us are doing anything in this depart- 
ment to find even the landmarks by which it will be possible 
to bring the financial apparatus on to the proper course. 
Comrade Gukovsky has proposed a plan to us. I shall not 
dwell upon whether this plan is good or bad. One thing 
only is clear to me: at the present time it is impossible 
to fulfil even the best plan in the financial sphere because 
as a matter of fact the machinery has not been organised 
for fulfilling it. If we were to try to carry out any kind of 
taxation, we would immediately come up against the fact 
that at present individual regions impose taxation according 
as someone takes it into his head to do so, as he has occasion 
to do so, and as local conditions allow him. In this respect 
the Soviets, which have power locally are not connected 
with one another at the present time. On the one hand, 
they are therefore divorced from the central authority and, 
on the other hand, they are insufficiently organised to be 
able actually to carry out what we draw up here. Let us 
take an example. I have personally had occasion to see 
Soviets which not only could not put into effect this finan- 
cial plan that we are outlining, but which even in their own 
localities very often do not possess the power that they 
should have. Very often, owing to the policy which we see 
in operation just now, these Soviets do not make use of 



their power, are unable to use it, because power is actually 
in the hands of certain groups which are often hostile to 
the Soviets, do not obey the Soviets and which, unfortu- 
nately, have a definite armed force at their disposal. In 
order not to speak abstractly, I shall cite an example. Not 
far from Moscow, in Ryazan Gubernia, I observed the follow- 
ing. There is a Soviet. Alongside it there is a Revolutionary 
Military Committee. The latter regards itself as autonomous 
in relation to the Soviet and itself imposes taxes, without 
even rendering any account to the Soviet. The Soviet itself 
also imposes taxes. As you see, if under such circumstances 
we try to carry out a plan from here, of course, it will not 
work and, of course, nothing will come of it, because even 
there, locally the Revolutionary Military Committee does 
not obey the Soviet and consequently, too, the Soviet 
cannot do anything for the central government. Hence 
something has to he done. It is necessary to set up a differ- 
ent organisation so that all the decrees published do not 
remain merely decrees, and so that they can be put into 
effect and not left hanging in the air. 

Brief newspaper report 
published on April 19, 1918 
in Izvestia VTsIK, No. 77 

First published in full 
in 1920 in the book Minutes 
of the Sessions of the All-Russia C.E.C., 
4th Convocation. Verbatim Report, 

Published according to 
the text of the book 


APRIL 23, 1918 


Comrades, allow me first of all to greet the newly elected 
Moscow Soviet of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies. 

You have had to elect a new membership at an extremely 
grave time, at a tragic moment when the development of 
our revolution is entering its most dangerous and difficult 
phase. Elements hostile to the revolution, all those who 
support the enemies of the people, all those who follow 
in the wake of the bourgeoisie, had put great hopes in the 
elections to our Soviet, for at the present time we are passing 
through an extremely difficult period, when the victorious 
advance of the revolution has ended and it has entered a 
phase of painful experiences and even defeats. And at this 
moment the proletariat has again shown us the great strength 
of its class-consciousness. The workers, appreciating the 
full difficulty of the period we are passing through, clearly 
understand that the removal of the great afflictions which 
have now fallen to the lot of the working people depends 
not on us, but on the whole course of historical events. 
With heroic determination the workers will shoulder the 
burden of new deprivations, if they can defend thereby 
the gains of the October Revolution. 

There is no doubt that, along with severe trials, the 
revolution has nevertheless entered a phase of new, incon- 
spicuous victories, which do not catch the eye but are not 
less important than the brilliant victories of the epoch of 
the October barricades. We are confronted in all their 



magnitude by our two mortal enemies; facing us in full 
armour are the external and the internal enemies, ready to 
tear the revolution to pieces and awaiting a suitable moment 
to deliver a knock-out blow. The external enemy is inter- 
national imperialism. Armed to the teeth and possessing a 
wealth of technical equipment, it is awaiting the moment 
for a new predatory attack on Soviet Russia. Bearing this 
in mind, we must with merciless clear-sightedness look 
the ominous truth squarely in the face. 

At the present time, as a result of the most reactionary 
war which our tormented country has had to endure, we 
do not have sufficient forces for an active, armed struggle 
against world reaction; we do not have an army, we do not 
have the forces with which to oppose the excellently organ- 
ised contingents of international counter-revolution, which 
have the strength that comes with up-to-date equipment 
and ideal discipline. For the time being we are alone and sur- 
rounded by deadly enemies. 

At the time of the October uprising of the working 
people, when we unfurled the Red banner of the socialist 
revolution before the workers, we went through a period 
of easy, dazzling success. The workers of other countries, 
who heard the far-off roar of the Russian revolution, under- 
stood what was taking place in Russia and realised that the 
Russian proletariat's action furthered their own vital cause. 
At that time, we easily coped with the reactionary gangs, 
we easily suppressed the remnants of the Menshevik gangs 
who were in revolt against the people and who opposed 
us not by open struggle arms in hand but by the dirty 
weapon of lies, slander and unprecedented treachery. As a 
result of our struggle against the counter-revolution we 
achieved a big victory, as seen from the fact that the counter- 
revolutionary Kornilov, foremost in audacity, was killed 
by his own soldiers, who had revolted against him. 98 

Waging an extensive struggle against the domestic 
counter-revolution on all fronts, we took advantage of the 
hitch suffered by the international bourgeoisie and delivered 
a well-timed, powerful body-blow at the now shattered 
counter-revolution. We can say with confidence that in the 
main the civil war is at an end. There will be some skir- 
mishes, of course, and in some towns street fighting will 



flare up here or there, due to isolated attempts by the re- 
actionaries to overthrow the strength of the revolution — 
the Soviet system — but there is no doubt that on the internal 
front reaction has been irretrievably smashed by the efforts 
of the insurgent people. Thus we have survived the first 
period of development of the revolution — the beginning of 
which dates from the October days — a period of intoxicating 
success, which did, in fact, go to the heads of some people. 

I repeat again that the most difficult, the gravest phase 
in the life of our revolution has now begun. The task before 
us is the inflexible exertion of all our strength and its 
application to new creative work, for only iron endurance 
and labour discipline will enable the revolutionary Russian 
proletariat, as yet so solitary in its gigantic revolutionary 
work, to hold out till the time of deliverance when the 
international proletariat will come to our aid. 

We are a revolutionary working-class contingent that 
has advanced to the forefront, not because we are better 
than other workers, not because the Russian proletariat is 
superior to the working class of other countries, but solely 
because we were one of the most backward countries in the 
world. We shall achieve final victory only when we succeed 
at last in conclusively smashing international imperialism, 
which relies on the tremendous strength of its equipment 
and discipline. But we shall achieve victory only together 
with all the workers of other countries, of the whole 

By force of circumstances, we have had to make an onerous 
peace in Brest, and we do not hide the fact that at any 
moment this peace may be treacherously violated by the 
numerous enemies of the revolution who are advancing 
upon us from all sides, and against whom we are powerless 
to begin an active struggle at the present moment. Bear 
in mind that anyone who would call you just now to this 
active, armed, open struggle against international predatory 
imperialism would commit an act of treachery to the 
people, would be a voluntary or involuntary agent provocateur 
and servitor of one or other clique of the imperialists. And 
anyone who acts in opposition to the tactics to which we 
have adhered in the recent period — even if he calls himself 
the most "Left", even super-Left, Communist — is a bad 



revolutionary, I will say more, is not a revolutionary at 
all. (Applause.) 

Our backwardness has put us in the forefront, and we 
shall perish unless we are capable of holding out until we 
receive powerful support from workers who have risen in 
revolt in other countries. Our task consists in steadily 
continuing our tactics of proletarian struggle. 

We have one extremely dangerous secret enemy, more 
dangerous than many open counter-revolutionaries; this 
enemy is the deadly enemy of the socialist revolution and 
Soviet power, which is a people's parliament of a new type 
for the poor, one that has hitherto not existed anywhere — 
this enemy is the anarchy of the petty proprietor. There 
is no doubt that we have come near to surmounting the 
most difficult obstacles in the way of the development of 
the socialist revolution. The first and foremost task con- 
fronting us is the full realisation of the dictatorship of the 
proletariat in all spheres: in the organisation of labour 
discipline, in production, and in the distribution of products. 
The enemy of whom I have spoken is the anarchy of the 
petty proprietors, whose life is guided by one thought: 
"I grab all I can — the rest can go hang." This enemy is 
more powerful than all the Kornilovs, Dutovs and Kale- 
dins put together. 

These petty kulaks, petty employers and proprietors say: 
"All the time we have been oppressed, all the time we have 
been crushed — well, how can we fail to take advantage of 
such a favourable opportunity." This phenomenon is a 
serious obstacle and unless we overcome it victory is incon- 
ceivable, for a new Kornilov will grow from each petty 
proprietor, from each greedy grabber. 

Alongside this danger, the terrible spectre of approach- 
ing famine and mass unemployment confronts us, but we 
see that all class-conscious workers, whose numbers increase 
not daily but hourly, take into consideration and under- 
stand that at the present time the sole means of struggle 
against these grave dangers is the unrelaxing exertion 
of all our strength and powerful endurance. And let it be 
remembered by those who give way to despair, and who 
lose heart and vigour at difficult moments in our revolution, 
that we have always said that we cannot pass from capital- 



ism to the full victory of socialism by the bloodless and 
easy path of persuasion and conciliation, and that we 
can only reach our goal as the result of a furious struggle. 

The dictatorship of the proletariat stands for the use 
of force against the exploiters. Our road is through endur- 
ance, proletarian solidarity, and the iron dictatorship 
of the working people. There is no doubt that in many 
cases the Soviet government has not displayed sufficient 
determination in the struggle against counter-revolution, 
and in this respect it has had the appearance not of iron, 
but of jelly, from which socialism cannot be built. We 
have not conquered petty-bourgeois anarchy. This country, 
which the course of history has advanced to the foremost posi- 
tion in the arena of the world revolution, a country devastat- 
ed and bled white, is in an extremely grave situation and 
we shall be crushed if we do not counter ruin, disorgani- 
sation and despair with the iron dictatorship of the class- 
conscious workers. We shall be merciless both to our ene- 
mies and to all waverers and harmful elements in our midst 
who dare to bring disorganisation into our difficult creative 
work of building a new life for the working people. 

We have begun to solve a problem the mastery of which 
will bring the full guarantee and consolidation of socialism. 
To overcome all difficulties, to struggle successfully against 
famine and unemployment, we shall perform an impercep- 
tible, modest but difficult task of state importance, and 
anyone who opposes us will be a bitter enemy of the 
world proletariat. 

The elections to the Moscow Soviet have shown how 
great is the workers' insight into current events. They have 
realised that Soviet power is not a showy ornament but 
something of their own flesh and blood. This last act, that 
of the elections to our Soviet, has spelt defeat for all those 
who pinned their hopes on these elections, for all the 
wavering elements, and this gives me hope and confidence 
that we are on the right road, which will lead us to the full 
victory of socialism. (Ovation.) 

Published on April 24, 1918 Published according to 

in Pravda No. 79 the Pravda text, 

and Izvestia VTsIK No. 21 collated with the verbatim report 

and the Izvestia text 


Written in March-April 1918 

Published on April 28, 1918 

in Pravda No. 83 
and Izvestia VTsIK No. 85 
Signed: N. Lenin 

Published according to 
the text of the pamphlet: 
N. Lenin, The Immediate 
Tasks of the Soviet Government 
2nd ed., Moscow, 1918, 
collated with the manuscript 



Thanks to the peace which has been achieved — despite 
its extremely onerous character and extreme instability — 
he Russian Soviet Republic has gained an opportunity 
to concentrate its efforts for a while on the most important 
and most difficult aspect of the socialist revolution, namely, 
the task of organisation. 

This task was clearly and definitely set before all the 
working and oppressed people in the fourth paragraph (Part 4) 
of the resolution adopted at the Extraordinary Congress 
of Soviets in Moscow on March 15, 1918, in that paragraph 
(or part) which speaks of the self-discipline of the working 
people and of the ruthless struggle against chaos and disor- 

Of course, the peace achieved by the Russian Soviet 
Republic is unstable not because she is now thinking of 
resuming military operations; apart from bourgeois counter- 
revolutionaries and their henchmen (the Mensheviks and 
others), no sane politician thinks of doing that. The insta- 
bility of the peace is due to the fact that in the imperialist 
states bordering on Russia to the West and the East, which 
command enormous military forces, the military party, 
tempted by Russia's momentary weakness and egged on 
by capitalists, who hate socialism and are eager for plunder, 
may gain the upper hand at any moment. 

Under these circumstances the only real, not paper, 
guarantee of peace we have is the antagonism among the 
imperialist powers, which has reached extreme limits, and 

See this volume, p. 200.— Ed. 



which is apparent on the one hand in the resumption of 
the imperialist butchery of the peoples in the West, and on 
the other hand in the extreme intensification of imperialist 
rivalry between Japan and America for supremacy in the 
Pacific and on the Pacific coast. 

It goes without saying that with such an unreliable 
guard for protection, our Soviet Socialist Republic is in 
an extremely unstable and certainly critical international 
position. All our efforts must be exerted to the very utmost 
to make use of the respite given us by the combination 
of circumstances so that we can heal the very severe wounds 
inflicted by the war upon the entire social organism of 
Russia and bring about an economic revival, without which 
a real increase in our country's defence potential is incon- 

It also goes without saying that we shall be able to render 
effective assistance to the socialist revolution in the West 
which has been delayed for a number of reasons, only to 
the extent that we are able to fulfil the task of organisation 
confronting us. 

A fundamental condition for the successful accomplish- 
ment of the primary task of organisation confronting us is 
that the people's political leaders, i.e., the members of 
the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), and following 
them all the class-conscious representatives of the mass 
of the working people, shall fully appreciate the radical 
distinction in this respect between previous bourgeois 
revolutions and the present socialist revolution. 

In bourgeois revolutions, the principal task of the mass 
of working people was to fulfil the negative or destructive 
work of abolishing feudalism, monarchy and medievalism. 
The positive or constructive work of organising the new 
society was carried out by the property-owning bourgeois 
minority of the population. And the latter carried out this 
task with relative ease, despite the resistance of the workers 
and the poor peasants, not only because the resistance of 
the people exploited by capital was then extremely weak, 
since they were scattered and uneducated, but also because 
the chief organising force of anarchically built capitalist 
society is the spontaneously growing and expanding 
national and international market. 

j / ■* 



First page of the manuscript of Lenin's "Theses 
on the Tasks of the Soviet Government 
in the Present Situation", March-April 1918 




In every socialist revolution, however — and consequently 
in the socialist revolution in Russia which we began on 
October 25, 1917 — the principal task of the proletariat, and 
of the poor peasants which it leads, is the positive or con- 
structive work of setting up an extremely intricate and 
delicate system of new organisational relationships extend- 
ing to the planned production and distribution of the goods 
required for the existence of tens of millions of people. 
Such a revolution can be successfully carried out only if 
the majority of the population, and primarily the majority 
of the working people, engage in independent creative work 
as makers of history. Only if the proletariat and the poor 
peasants display sufficient class-consciousness, devotion 
to principle, self-sacrifice and perseverance, will the victory 
of the socialist revolution be assured. By creating a new, 
Soviet type of state, which gives the working and oppressed 
people the chance to take an active part in the independent 
building up of a new society, we solved only a small part 
of this difficult problem . The principal difficulty lies in 
the economic sphere, namely, the introduction of the strict- 
est and universal accounting and control of the production 
and distribution of goods, raising the productivity of labour 
and socialising production in practice. 

The development of the Bolshevik Party, which today is 
the governing party in Russia, very strikingly indicates 
the nature of the turning-point in history we have now 
reached, which is the peculiar feature of the present 
political situation, and which calls for a new orienta- 
tion of Soviet power, i.e., for a new presentation of new 

The first task of every party of the future is to convince, 
the majority of the people that its programme and tactics 
are correct. This task stood in the forefront both in tsarist 
times and in the period of the Chernovs' and Tseretelis' 
policy of compromise with the Kerenskys and Kishkins. 
This task has now been fulfilled in the main, for, as the 
recent Congress of Soviets in Moscow incontrovertibly 
proved, the majority of the workers and peasants of Russia 
are obviously on the side of the Bolsheviks; but of course, 



it is far from being completely fulfilled (and it can never 
be completely fulfilled). 

The second task that confronted our Party was to capture 
political power and to suppress the resistance of the 
exploiters. This task has not been completely fulfilled either, 
and it cannot be ignored because the monarchists and 
Constitutional-Democrats on the one hand, and their hench- 
men and hangers-on, the Mensheviks and Right Socialist- 
Revolutionaries, on the other, are continuing their efforts 
to unite for the purpose of overthrowing Soviet power. 
In the main, however, the task of suppressing the resistance 
of the exploiters was fulfilled in the period from October 25, 
1917, to (approximately) February 1918, or to the surrender 
of Bogayevsky. 100 

A third task is now coming to the fore as the immediate 
task and one which constitutes the peculiar feature of the 
present situation, namely, the task of organising admin- 
istration of Russia. Of course, we advanced and tackled 
this task on the very day following October 25, 1917. Up 
to now, however, since the resistance of the exploiters still 
took the form of open civil war, up to now the task of admin- 
istration could not become the main, the central task. 

Now it has become the main and central task. We, the 
Bolshevik Party, have convinced Russia. We have won 
Russia from the rich for the poor, from the exploiters for 
the working people. Now we must administer Russia. And 
the whole peculiarity of the present situation, the whole 
difficulty, lies in understanding the specific features of 
the transition from the principal task of convincing the 
people and of suppressing the exploiters by armed force to 
the principal task of administration. 

For the first time in human history a socialist party has 
managed to complete in the main the conquest of power 
and the suppression of the exploiters, and has managed 
to approach directly the task of administration. We must 
prove worthy executors of this most difficult (and most 
gratifying) task of the socialist revolution. We must 
fully realise that in order to administer successfully, besides 
being able to convince people, besides being able to 
win a civil war, we must be able to do practical organisational 
work. This is the most difficult task, because it is a matter 



of organising in a new way the most deep-rooted, the econ- 
omic, foundations of life of scores of millions of people. 
And it is the most gratifying task, because only after it 
has been fulfilled (in the principal and main outlines) 
will it be possible to say that Russia has become not only a 
Soviet, but also a socialist, republic. 


The objective situation reviewed above, which has been 
created by the extremely onerous and unstable peace, the 
terrible state of ruin, the unemployment and famine we 
inherited from the war and the rule of the bourgeoisie (rep- 
resented by Kerensky and the Mensheviks and Right Social- 
ist-Revolutionaries who supported him), all this has 
inevitably caused extreme weariness and even exhaustion of 
wide sections of the working people. These people insistently 
demand — and cannot but demand — a respite. The task 
of the day is to restore the productive forces destroyed by 
the war and by bourgeois rule; to heal the wounds inflicted 
by the war, by the defeat in the war, by profiteering and the 
attempts of the bourgeoisie to restore the overthrown rule 
of the exploiters; to achieve economic revival; to provide 
reliable protection of elementary order. It may sound 
paradoxical, but in fact, considering the objective condi- 
tions indicated above, it is absolutely certain that at the 
present moment the Soviet system can secure Russia's 
transition to socialism only if these very elementary, 
extremely elementary problems of maintaining public 
life are practically solved in spite of the resistance of the 
bourgeoisie, the Mensheviks and the Right Socialist-Revo- 
lutionaries. In view of the specific features of the present 
situation, and in view of the existence of Soviet power with 
its land socialisation law, workers' control law, etc., the 
practical solution of these extremely elementary problems 
and the overcoming of the organisational difficulties of 
the first stages of progress toward socialism are now two 
aspects of the same picture. 

Keep regular and honest accounts of money, manage 
economically, do not be lazy, do not steal, observe the 
strictest labour discipline — it is these slogans, justly scorned 



by the revolutionary proletariat when the bourgeoisie used 
them to conceal its rule as an exploiting class, that are now, 
since the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, becoming the imme- 
diate and the principal slogans of the moment. On the 
one hand, the practical application of these slogans by 
the mass of working people is the sole condition for the 
salvation of a country which has been tortured almost to 
death by the imperialist war and by the imperialist robbers 
(headed by Kerensky); on the other hand, the practical 
application of these slogans by the Soviet State, by its 
methods, on the basis of its laws, is a necessary and sufficient 
condition for the final victory of socialism. This is precisely 
what those who contemptuously brush aside the idea of 
putting such "hackneyed" and "trivial" slogans in the fore- 
front fail to understand. In a small-peasant country, which 
overthrew tsarism only a year ago, and which liberated 
itself from the Kerenskys less than six months ago, there 
has naturally remained not a little of spontaneous anarchy, 
intensified by the brutality and savagery that accompany 
every protracted and reactionary war, and there has arisen 
a good deal of despair and aimless bitterness. And if we 
add to this the provocative policy of the lackeys of the 
bourgeoisie (the Mensheviks, the Right Socialist-Revolu- 
tionaries, etc.) it will become perfectly clear what prolonged 
and persistent efforts must be exerted by the best and the 
most class-conscious workers and peasants in order to bring 
about a complete change in the mood of the people and to 
bring them on to the proper path of steady and disciplined 
labour. Only such a transition brought about by the mass 
of the poor (the proletarians and semi-proletarians) can 
consummate the victory over the bourgeoisie and particu- 
larly over the peasant bourgeoisie, more stubborn and 


The bourgeoisie in our country has been conquered, but 
it has not yet been uprooted, not yet destroyed, and not 
even utterly broken. That is why we are faced with a new and 
higher form of struggle against the bourgeoisie, the transi- 
tion from the very simple task of further expropriating the 



capitalists to the much more complicated and difficult task 
of creating conditions in which it will be impossible for 
the bourgeoisie to exist, or for a new bourgeoisie to arise. 
Clearly, this task is immeasurably more significant than 
the previous one; and until it is fulfilled there will be no 

If we measure our revolution by the scale of West-Euro- 
pean revolutions we shall find that at the present moment 
we are approximately at the level reached in 1793 and 1871. 
We can be legitimately proud of having risen to this level, 
and of having certainly, in one respect, advanced somewhat 
further, namely: we have decreed and introduced through- 
out Russia the highest type of state — Soviet power. Under 
no circumstances, however, can we rest content with what 
we have achieved, because we have only just started the 
transition to socialism, we have not yet done the decisive 
thing in this respect. 

The decisive thing is the organisation of the strictest 
and country-wide accounting and control of production 
and distribution of goods. And yet, we have not yet intro- 
duced accounting and control in those enterprises and in 
those branches and fields of economy which we have taken 
away from the bourgeoisie; and without this there can be 
no thought of achieving the second and equally essential 
material condition for introducing socialism, namely, 
raising the productivity of labour on a national scale. 

That is why the present task could not be defined by the 
simple formula: continue the offensive against capital. 
Although we have certainly not finished off capital and 
although it is certainly necessary to continue the offensive 
against this enemy of the working people, such a formula 
would be inexact, would not be concrete, would not take 
into account the peculiarity of the present situation in which, 
in order to go on advancing successfully in the future, we 
must "suspend" our offensive now. 

This can be explained by comparing our position in the 
war against capital with the position of a victorious army 
that has captured, say, a half or two-thirds of the enemy's 
territory and is compelled to halt in order to muster its 
forces, to replenish its supplies of munitions, repair and 
reinforce the lines of communication, build new storehouses, 



bring up new reserves, etc. To suspend the offensive of a 
victorious army under such conditions is necessary precisely 
in order to gain the rest of the enemy's territory, i.e., in 
order to achieve complete victory. Those who have failed 
to understand that the objective state of affairs at the 
present moment dictates to us precisely such a "suspension" 
of the offensive against capital have failed to understand 
anything at all about the present political situation. 

It goes without saying that we can speak about the "sus- 
pension" of the offensive against capital only in quotation 
marks, i.e., only metaphorically. In ordinary war, a general 
order can be issued to stop the offensive, the advance can 
actually be stopped. In the war against capital, however, 
the advance cannot be stopped, and there can be no thought 
of our abandoning the further expropriation of capital. 
What we are discussing is the shifting of the centre of 
gravity of our economic and political work. Up to now 
measures for the direct expropriation of the expropriators 
were in the forefront. Now the organisation of accounting 
and control in those enterprises in which the capitalists 
have already been expropriated, and in all other enter- 
prises, advances to the forefront. 

If we decided to continue to expropriate capital at the 
same rate at which we have been doing it up to now, we 
should certainly suffer defeat, because our work of organ- 
ising proletarian accounting and control has obviously — 
obviously to every thinking person — fallen behind the work 
of directly "expropriating the expropriators". If we now 
concentrate all our efforts on the organisation of accounting 
and control, we shall be able to solve this problem, we 
shall be able to make up for lost time, we shall completely 
win our "campaign" against capital. 

But is not the admission that we must make up for lost 
time tantamount to admission of some kind of an error? 
Not in the least. Take another military example. If it is 
possible to defeat and push back the enemy merely with 
detachments of light cavalry, it should be done. But if 
this can be done successfully only up to a certain point, then 
it is quite conceivable that when this point has been reached, 
it will be necessary to bring up heavy artillery. By admit- 
ting that it is now necessary to make up for lost time in 



bringing up heavy artillery, we do not admit that the 
successful cavalry attack was a mistake. 

Frequently, the lackeys of the bourgeoisie reproached 
us for having launched a "Red Guard" attack on capital. 
The reproach is absurd and is worthy only of the lackeys 
of the money-bags, because at one time the "Red Guard" 
attack on capital was absolutely dictated by circumstances. 
Firstly, at that time capital put up military resistance 
through the medium of Kerensky and Krasnov, Savinkov 
and Gotz (Gegechkori is putting up such resistance even 
now), Dutov and Bogayevsky. Military resistance cannot 
be broken except by military means, and the Red Guards 
fought in the noble and supreme historical cause of liberat- 
ing the working and exploited people from the yoke of the 

Secondly, we could not at that time put methods of 
administration in the forefront in place of methods of sup- 
pression, because the art of administration is not innate, 
but is acquired by experience. At that time we lacked this 
experience; now we have it. Thirdly, at that time we could 
not have specialists in the various fields of knowledge and 
technology at our disposal because those specialists were 
either fighting in the ranks of the Bogayevskys, or were 
still able to put up systematic and stubborn passive resist- 
ance by way of sabotage. Now we have broken the sabotage. 
The "Red Guard" attack on capital was successful, was 
victorious, because we broke capital's military resistance 
and its resistance by sabotage. 

Does that mean that a "Red Guard" attack on capital 
is always appropriate, under all circumstances, that we 
have no other means of fighting capital? It would be child- 
ish to think so. We achieved victory with the aid of light 
cavalry, but we also have heavy artillery. We achieved 
victory by methods of suppression; we shall be able to 
achieve victory also by methods of administration. We 
must know how to change our methods of fighting the 
enemy to suit changes in the situation. We shall not for a 
moment renounce "Red Guard" suppression of the Savinkovs 
and Gegechkoris and all other landowner and bourgeois 
counter-revolutionaries. We shall not be so foolish, however, 
as to put "Red Guard" methods in the forefront at a time 



when the period in which Red Guard attacks were necessary 
has, in the main, drawn to a close (and to a victorious 
close), and when the period of utilising bourgeois specialists 
by the proletarian state power for the purpose of reploughing 
the soil in order to prevent the growth of any bourgeoisie 
whatever is knocking at the door. 

This is a peculiar epoch, or rather stage of development, 
and in order to defeat capital completely, we must be able 
to adapt the forms of our struggle to the peculiar conditions 
of this stage. 

Without the guidance of experts in the various fields 
of knowledge, technology and experience, the transition to 
socialism will be impossible, because socialism calls for a 
conscious mass advance to greater productivity of labour 
compared with capitalism, and on the basis achieved by 
capitalism. Socialism must achieve this advance in its 
own way, by its own methods — or, to put it more concretely, 
by Soviet methods. And the specialists, because of the whole 
social environment which made them specialists, are, in 
the main, inevitably bourgeois. Had our proletariat, after 
capturing power, quickly solved the problem of accounting, 
control and organisation on a national scale (which was 
impossible owing to the war and Russia's backwardness), 
then we, after breaking the sabotage, would also have com- 
pletely subordinated these bourgeois experts to ourselves 
by means of universal accounting and control. Owing to 
the considerable "delay" in introducing accounting and 
control generally, we, although we have managed to conquer 
sabotage, have not yet created the conditions which would 
place the bourgeois specialists at our disposal. The mass 
of saboteurs are "going to work", but the best organisers 
and the top experts can be utilised by the state either in 
the old way, in the bourgeois way (i.e., for high salaries), 
or in the new way, in the proletarian way (i.e., creating the 
conditions of national accounting and control from below, 
which would inevitably and of itself subordinate the experts 
and enlist them for our work). 

Now we have to resort to the old bourgeois method and 
to agree to pay a very high price for the "services" of the 
top bourgeois experts. All those who are familiar with the 
subject appreciate this, but not all ponder over the sig- 



nificance of this measure being adopted by the proletarian 
state. Clearly, this measure is a compromise, a departure 
from the principles of the Paris Commune and of every 
proletarian power, which call for the reduction of all 
salaries to the level of the wages of the average worker, which 
urge that careerism be fought not merely in words, but in deeds. 

Moreover, it is clear that this measure not only implies 
the cessation — in a certain field and to a certain degree — of 
the offensive against capital (for capital is not a sum of 
money, but a definite social relation); it is also a step back- 
ward on the part of our socialist Soviet state power, which 
from the very outset proclaimed and pursued the policy 
of reducing high salaries to the level of the wages of the 
average worker. 101 

Of course, the lackeys of the bourgeoisie, particularly 
the small fry, such as the Mensheviks, the Novaya Zhizn 
people and the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, will giggle 
over our confession that we are taking a step backward. 
But we need not mind their giggling. We must study the 
specific features of the extremely difficult and new path 
to socialism without concealing our mistakes and weaknesses, 
and try to be prompt in doing what has been left undone. 
To conceal from the people the fact that the enlistment of 
bourgeois experts by means of extremely high salaries is a 
retreat from the principles of the Paris Commune would 
be sinking to the level of bourgeois politicians and deceiving 
the people. Frankly explaining how and why we took this 
step backward, and then publicly discussing what means 
are available for making up for lost time, means educating 
the people and learning from experience, learning together 
with the people how to build socialism. There is hardly a 
single victorious military campaign in history in which the 
victor did not commit certain mistakes, suffer partial 
reverses, temporarily yield something and in some places 
retreat. The "campaign" which we have undertaken against 
capitalism is a million times more difficult than the most 
difficult military campaign, and it would be silly and dis- 
graceful to give way to despondency because of a particular 
and partial retreat. 

We shall now discuss the question from the practical 
point of view. Let us assume that the Russian Soviet 



Republic requires one thousand first-class scientists and 
experts in various fields of knowledge, technology and 
practical experience to direct the labour of the people towards 
securing the speediest possible economic revival. Let us 
assume also that we shall have to pay these "stars of the 
first magnitude" — of course the majority of those who 
shout loudest about the corruption of the workers are them- 
selves utterly corrupted by bourgeois morals — 25,000 rubles 
per annum each. Let us assume that this sum (25,000,000 
rubles) will have to be doubled (assuming that we have to 
pay bonuses for particularly successful and rapid fulfilment 
of the most important organisational and technical tasks), 
or even quadrupled (assuming that we have to enlist several 
hundred foreign specialists, who are more demanding). 
The question is, would the annual expenditure of fifty or a 
hundred million rubles by the Soviet Republic for the pur- 
pose of reorganising the labour of the people on modern 
scientific and technological lines be excessive or too heavy? 
Of course not. The overwhelming majority of the class- 
conscious workers and peasants will approve of this expen- 
diture because they know from practical experience that 
our backwardness causes us to lose thousands of millions, 
and that we have not yet reached that degree of organisa- 
tion, accounting and control which would induce all the 
"stars" of the bourgeois intelligentsia to participate 
voluntarily in our work. 

It goes without saying that this question has another 
side to it. The corrupting influence of high salaries — both 
upon the Soviet authorities (especially since the revolution 
occurred so rapidly that it was impossible to prevent a 
certain number of adventurers and rogues from getting into 
positions of authority, and they, together with a number 
of inept or dishonest commissars, would not be averse 
to becoming "star" embezzlers of state funds) and upon the 
mass of the workers — is indisputable. Every thinking and 
honest worker and poor peasant, however, will agree with 
us, will admit, that we cannot immediately rid ourselves 
of the evil legacy of capitalism, and that we can liberate 
the Soviet Republic from the duty of paying an annual 
"tribute" of fifty million or one hundred million rubles (a 
tribute for our own-backwardness in organising country-wide 



accounting and control from below) only by organising 
ourselves, by tightening up discipline in our own ranks, 
by purging our ranks of all those who are "preserving the 
legacy of capitalism", who "follow the traditions of capital- 
ism", i.e., of idlers, parasites and embezzlers of state funds 
(now all the land, all the factories and all the railways are 
the "state funds" of the Soviet Republic). If the class-con- 
scious advanced workers and poor peasants manage with the 
aid of the Soviet institutions to organise, become disciplined, 
pull themselves together, create powerful labour discipline 
in the course of one year, then in a year's time we shall 
throw off this "tribute", which can be reduced even before 
that ... in exact proportion to the successes we achieve in 
our workers' and peasants' labour discipline and organisa- 
tion. The sooner we ourselves, workers and peasants, learn 
the best labour discipline and the most modern technique 
of labour, using the bourgeois experts to teach us, the sooner 
we shall liberate ourselves from any "tribute" to these 

Our work of organising country-wide accounting and 
control of production and distribution under the supervision 
of the proletariat has lagged very much behind our work of 
directly expropriating the expropriators. This proposition 
is of fundamental importance for understanding the specific 
features of the present situation and the tasks of the Soviet 
government that follow from it. The centre of gravity 
of our struggle against the bourgeoisie is shifting to the 
organisation of such accounting and control. Only with 
this as our starting-point will it be possible to determine 
correctly the immediate tasks of economic and financial 
policy in the sphere of nationalisation of the banks, monop- 
olisation of foreign trade, the state control of money cir- 
culation, the introduction of a property and income tax 
satisfactory from the proletarian point of view, and the 
introduction of compulsory labour service. 

We have been lagging very far behind in introducing 
socialist reforms in these spheres (very, very important 
spheres), and this is because accounting and control are 
insufficiently organised in general. It goes without saying 
that this is one of the most difficult tasks, and in view of 
the ruin caused by the war, it can be fulfilled only over a 



long period of time; but we must not forget that it is pre- 
cisely here that the bourgeoisie — and particularly the 
numerous petty and peasant bourgeoisie — are putting up 
the most serious fight, disrupting the control that is already 
being organised, disrupting the grain monopoly, for example, 
and gaining positions for profiteering and speculative 
trade. We have far from adequately carried out the things 
we have decreed, and the principal task of the moment is 
to concentrate all efforts on the businesslike, practical reali- 
sation of the principles of the reforms which have already 
become law (but not yet reality). 

In order to proceed with the nationalisation of the banks 
and to go on steadfastly towards transforming the banks 
into nodal points of public accounting under socialism, 
we must first of all, and above all, achieve real success 
in increasing the number of branches of the People's Bank, 
in attracting deposits, in simplifying the paying in and 
withdrawal of deposits by the public, in abolishing queues, 
in catching and shooting bribe-takers and rogues, etc. 
At first we must really carry out the simplest things, 
properly organise what is available, and then prepare for the 
more intricate things. 

Consolidate and improve the state monopolies (in grain, 
leather, etc.) which have already been introduced, and by 
doing so prepare for the state monopoly of foreign trade. 
Without this monopoly we shall not be able to "free our- 
selves" from foreign capital by paying "tribute". 102 And 
the possibility of building up socialism depends entirely 
upon whether we shall be able, by paying a certain tribute 
to foreign capital during a certain transitional period, to 
safeguard our internal economic independence. 

We are also lagging very far behind in regard to the col- 
lection of taxes generally, and of the property and income 
tax in particular. The imposing of indemnities upon the 
bourgeoisie — a measure which in principle is absolutely 
permissible and deserves proletarian approval — shows that 
in this respect we are still nearer to the methods of warfare 
(to win Russia from the rich for the poor) than to the methods 
of administration. In order to become stronger, however, 
and in order to be able to stand firmer on our feet, we must 
adopt the latter methods, we must substitute for the 



indemnities imposed upon the bourgeoisie the constant and 
regular collection of a property and income tax, which will 
bring a greater return to the proletarian state, and which 
calls for better organisation on our part and better accounting 
and control. 103 

The fact that we are late in introducing compulsory 
labour service also shows that the work that is coming to the 
fore at the present time is precisely the preparatory organ- 
isational work that, on the one hand, will finally con- 
solidate our gains and that, on the other, is necessary in order 
to prepare for the operation of "surrounding" capital and 
compelling it to "surrender". We ought to begin introducing 
compulsory labour service immediately, but we must do so 
very gradually and circumspectly, testing every step by 
practical experience, and, of course, taking the first step 
by introducing compulsory labour service for the rich. 
The introduction of work and consumers' budget books 
for every bourgeois, including every rural bourgeois, would 
be an important step towards completely "surrounding" 
the enemy and towards the creation of a truly popular 
accounting and control of the production and distribution 
of goods. 


The state, which for centuries has been an organ for 
oppression and robbery of the people, has left us a legacy of 
the people's supreme hatred and suspicion of everything 
that is connected with the state. It is very difficult to over- 
come this, and only a Soviet government can do it. Even 
a Soviet government, however, will require plenty of time 
and enormous perseverance to accomplish it. This "legacy" 
is especially apparent in the problem of accounting and 
control — the fundamental problem facing the socialist 
revolution on the morrow of the overthrow of the bourgeoi- 
sie. A certain amount of time will inevitably pass before 
the people, who feel free for the first time now that the 
landowners and the bourgeoisie have been overthrown, will 
understand — not from books, but from their own, Soviet 
experience — will understand and feel that without compre- 
hensive state accounting and control of the production and 



distribution of goods, the power of the working people, the 
freedom of the working people, cannot be maintained, and 
that a return to the yoke of capitalism is inevitable. 

All the habits and traditions of the bourgeoisie, and 
of the petty bourgeoisie in particular, also oppose state 
control, and uphold the inviolability of "sacred private 
property", of "sacred" private enterprise. It is now partic- 
ularly clear to us how correct is the Marxist thesis that 
anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism are bourgeois trends, 
how irreconcilably opposed they are to socialism, proletar- 
ian dictatorship and communism. The fight to instill into 
the people's minds the idea of Soviet state control and 
accounting, and to carry out this idea in practice; the 
fight to break with the rotten past, which taught the people 
to regard the procurement of bread and clothes as a "private" 
affair, and buying and selling as a transaction "which con- 
cerns only myself" — is a great fight of world-historic sig- 
nificance, a fight between socialist consciousness and bour- 
geois-anarchist spontaneity. 

We have introduced workers' control as a law, but this 
law is only just beginning to operate and is only just 
beginning to penetrate the minds of broad sections of the 
proletariat. In our agitation we do not sufficiently explain 
that lack of accounting and control in the production and 
distribution of goods means the death of the rudiments of 
socialism, means the embezzlement of state funds (for all 
property belongs to the state and the state is the Soviet 
state in which power belongs to the majority of the working 
people). We do not sufficiently explain that carelessness 
in accounting and control is downright aiding and abetting 
the German and the Russian Kornilovs, who can overthrow 
the power of the working people only if we fail to cope 
with the task of accounting and control, and who, with the 
aid of the whole of the rural bourgeoisie, with the aid of 
the Constitutional-Democrats, the Mensheviks and the Right 
Socialist-Revolutionaries, are "watching" us and waiting 
for an opportune moment to attack us. And the advanced 
workers and peasants do not think and speak about this 
sufficiently. Until workers' control has become a fact, until 
the advanced workers have organised and carried out a 
victorious and ruthless crusade against the violators of 



this control, or against those who are careless in matters 
of control, it will be impossible to pass from the first step 
(from workers' control) to the second step towards social- 
ism, i.e., to pass on to workers' regulation of production. 

The socialist state can arise only as a network of produc- 
ers' and consumers' communes, which conscientiously 
keep account of their production and consumption, econ- 
omise on labour, and steadily raise the productivity of 
labour, thus making it possible to reduce the working day 
to seven, six and even fewer hours. Nothing will be 
achieved unless the strictest, country-wide, comprehen- 
sive accounting and control of grain and the production 
of grain (and later of all other essential goods) are set going. 
Capitalism left us a legacy of mass organisations which can 
facilitate our transition to the mass accounting and control 
of the distribution of goods, namely, the consumers' co- 
operative societies. In Russia these societies are not so 
well developed as in the advanced countries, nevertheless, 
they have over ten million members. The Decree on Con- 
sumers' Co-operative Societies, 104 issued the other day, 
is an extremely significant phenomenon, which strikingly 
illustrates the peculiar position and the specific tasks of 
the Soviet Socialist Republic at the present moment. 

The decree is an agreement with the bourgeois co-opera- 
tive societies and the workers' co-operative societies which 
still adhere to the bourgeois point of view. It is an agree- 
ment, or compromise, firstly because the representatives 
of the above-mentioned institutions not only took part in 
discussing the decree, but actually had a decisive say in 
the matter, for the parts of the decree which were strongly 
opposed by these institutions were dropped. Secondly, the 
essence of the compromise is that the Soviet government 
has abandoned the principle of admission of new members 
to co-operative societies without entrance fees (which is the 
only consistently proletarian principle); it has also aban- 
doned the idea of uniting the whole population of a given 
locality in a single co-operative society. Contrary to this 
principle, which is the only socialist principle and which 
corresponds to the task of abolishing classes, the "working- 
class co-operative societies" (which in this case call 
themselves "class" societies only because they subordinate 



themselves to the class interests of the bourgeoisie) were given 
the right to continue to exist. Finally, the Soviet govern- 
ment's proposal to expel the bourgeoisie entirely from the 
boards of the co-operative societies was also considerably 
modified, and only owners of private capitalist trading 
and industrial enterprises were forbidden to serve on the 

Had the proletariat, acting through the Soviet govern- 
ment, managed to organise accounting and control on a 
national scale, or at least laid the foundation for such con- 
trol, it would not have been necessary to make such com- 
promises. Through the food departments of the Soviets, 
through the supply organisations under the Soviets we 
should have organised the population into a single co- 
operative society under proletarian management. We should 
have done this without the assistance of the bourgeois co- 
operative societies, without making any concession to the 
purely bourgeois principle which prompts the workers' 
co-operative societies to remain workers' societies side by 
side with bourgeois societies, instead of subordinating 
these bourgeois co-operative societies entirely to them- 
selves, merging the two together and taking the entire 
management of the society and the supervision of the con- 
sumption of the rich in their own hands. 

In concluding such an agreement with the bourgeois co- 
operative societies, the Soviet government concretely 
defined its tactical aims and its peculiar methods of action 
in the present stage of development as follows: by directing 
the bourgeois elements, utilising them, making certain 
partial concessions to them, we create the conditions for 
further progress that will be slower than we at first anti- 
cipated, but surer, with the base and lines of communica- 
tion better secured and with the positions which have 
been won better consolidated. The Soviets can {and should) 
now gauge their successes in the field of socialist construc- 
tion, among other things, by extremely clear, simple and 
practical standards, namely, in how many communities 
(communes or villages, or blocks of houses, etc.) co-opera- 
tive societies have been organised, and to what extent their 
development has reached the point of embracing the whole 
population . 




In every socialist revolution, after the proletariat has 
solved the problem of capturing power, and to the extent 
that the task of expropriating the expropriators and sup- 
pressing their resistance has been carried out in the main, 
there necessarily comes to the forefront the fundamental 
task of creating a social system superior to capitalism, 
namely, raising the productivity of labour, and in this 
connection (and for this purpose) securing better organisa- 
tion of labour. Our Soviet state is precisely in the position 
where, thanks to the victories over the exploiters — from 
Kerensky to Kornilov — it is able to approach this task 
directly, to tackle it in earnest. And here it becomes 
immediately clear that while it is possible to take over the 
central government in a few days, while it is possible to 
suppress the military resistance (and sabotage) of the 
exploiters even in different parts of a great country in a few 
weeks, the capital solution of the problem of raising the 
productivity of labour requires, at all events (particularly 
after a most terrible and devastating war), several years. 
The protracted nature of the work is certainly dictated by 
objective circumstances. 

The raising of the productivity of labour first of all 
requires that the material basis of large-scale industry 
shall be assured, namely, the development of the production 
of fuel, iron, the engineering and chemical industries. The 
Russian Soviet Republic enjoys the favourable position 
of having at its command, even after the Brest peace, enor- 
mous reserves of ore (in the Urals), fuel in Western Siberia 
(coal), in the Caucasus and the South-East (oil), in Central 
Russia (peat), enormous timber reserves, water power, raw 
materials for the chemical industry (Karabugaz), etc. The 
development of these natural resources by methods of modern 
technology will provide the basis for the unprecedented 
progress of the productive forces. 

Another condition for raising the productivity of labour 
is, firstly, the raising of the educational and cultural level 
of the mass of the population. This is now taking place 
extremely rapidly, a fact which those who are blinded by 
bourgeois routine are unable to see; they are unable to 



understand what an urge towards enlightenment and ini- 
tiative is now developing among the "lower ranks" of the 
people thanks to the Soviet form of organisation. Secondly, 
a condition for economic revival is the raising of the work- 
ing people's discipline, their skill, the effectiveness, the 
intensity of labour and its better organisation. 

In this respect the situation is particularly bad and even 
hopeless if we are to believe those who have allowed them- 
selves to be intimidated by the bourgeoisie or by those 
who are serving the bourgeoisie for their own ends. These 
people do not understand that there has not been, nor could 
there be, a revolution in which the supporters of the old 
system did not raise a howl about chaos, anarchy, etc. 
naturally, among the people who have only just thrown off 
an unprecedentedly savage yoke there is deep and widespread 
seething and ferment; the working out of new principles of 
labour discipline by the people is a very protracted process, 
and this process could not even start until complete victory 
had been achieved over the landowners and the bourgeoisie. 

We, however, without in the least yielding to the despair 
(it is often false despair) which is spread by the bourgeoisie 
and the bourgeois intellectuals (who have despaired of 
retaining their old privileges), must under no circumstances 
conceal an obvious evil. On the contrary, we shall expose 
it and intensify the Soviet methods of combating it, because 
the victory of socialism is inconceivable without the victory 
of proletarian conscious discipline over spontaneous petty- 
bourgeois anarchy, this real guarantee of a possible resto- 
ration of Kerenskyism and Kornilovism. 

The more class-conscious vanguard of the Russian pro- 
letariat has already set itself the task of raising labour 
discipline. For example, both the Central Committee of 
the Metalworkers' Union and the Central Council of Trade 
Unions have begun to draft the necessary measures and de- 
crees. 105 This work must be supported and pushed ahead with 
all speed. We must raise the question of piece-work 106 
and apply and test it in practice; we must raise the question 
of applying much of what is scientific and progressive in 
the Taylor system; we must make wages correspond to the 
total amount of goods turned out, or to the amount of work 
done by the railways, the water transport system, etc., etc. 



The Russian is a bad worker compared with people in 
advanced countries. It could not be otherwise under the 
tsarist regime and in view of the persistence of the hangover 
from serfdom. The task that the Soviet government must set 
the people in all its scope is — learn to work. The Taylor 
system, the last word of capitalism in this respect, like all 
capitalist progress, is a combination of the refined brutality 
of bourgeois exploitation and a number of the greatest 
scientific achievements in the field of analysing mechanical 
motions during work, the elimination of superfluous and 
awkward motions, the elaboration of correct methods of 
work, the introduction of the best system of accounting and 
control, etc. The Soviet Republic must at all costs adopt 
all that is valuable in the achievements of science and tech- 
nology in this field. The possibility of building socialism 
depends exactly upon our success in combining the Soviet 
power and the Soviet organisation of administration with 
the up-to-date achievements of capitalism. We must organ- 
ise in Russia the study and teaching of the Taylor system 
and systematically try it out and adapt it to our own ends. 
At the same time, in working to raise the productivity of 
labour, we must take into account the specific features of 
the transition period from capitalism to socialism, which, on 
the one hand, require that the foundations be laid of the 
socialist organisation of competition, and, on the other 
hand, require the use of compulsion, so that the slogan of 
the dictatorship of the proletariat shall not be desecrated 
by the practice of a lily-livered proletarian government. 


Among the absurdities which the bourgeoisie are fond 
of spreading about socialism is the allegation that socialists 
deny the importance of competition. In fact, it is only 
socialism which, by abolishing classes, and, consequently, 
by abolishing the enslavement of the people, for the first 
time opens the way for competition on a really mass scale. 
And it is precisely the Soviet form of organisation, by 
ensuring transition from the formal democracy of the 
bourgeois republic to real participation of the mass of working 
people in administration, that for the first time puts 



competition on a broad basis. It is much easier to organise 
this in the political field than in the economic field; but 
for the success of socialism, it is the economic field that 

Take, for example, a means of organising competition 
such as publicity. The bourgeois republic ensures publici- 
ty only formally; in practice, it subordinates the press 
to capital, entertains the "mob" with sensationalist polit- 
ical trash and conceals what takes place in the workshops, 
in commercial transactions, contracts, etc., behind a veil 
of "trade secrets", which protect "the sacred right of 
property". The Soviet government has abolished trade 
secrets 107 ; it has taken a new path; but we have done hardly 
anything to utilise publicity for the purpose of encouraging 
economic competition. While ruthlessly suppressing the 
thoroughly mendacious and insolently slanderous bourgeois 
press, we must set to work systematically to create a press 
that will not entertain and fool the people with political 
sensation and trivialities, but which will submit the ques- 
tions of everyday economic life to the people's judgement 
and assist in the serious study of these questions. Every 
factory, every village is a producers' and consumers' com- 
mune, whose right and duty it is to apply the general Soviet 
laws in their own way ("in their own way", not in the sense 
of violating them, but in the sense that they can apply them 
in various forms) and in their own way to solve the prob- 
lem of accounting in the production and distribution of 
goods. Under capitalism, this was the "private affair" 
of the individual capitalist, landowner or kulak. Under 
the Soviet system, it is not a private affair, but a most 
important affair of state. 

We have scarcely yet started on the enormous, difficult 
but rewarding task of organising competition between 
communes, of introducing accounting and publicity in 
the process of the production of grain, clothes and other 
things, of transforming dry, dead, bureaucratic accounts 
into living examples, some repulsive, others attractive. 
Under the capitalist mode of production, the significance 
of individual example, say the example of a co-operative 
workshop, was inevitably very much restricted, and only 
those imbued with petty-bourgeois illusions could dream of 



"correcting" capitalism through the example of virtuous 
institutions. After political power has passed to the prole- 
tariat, after the expropriators have been expropriated, the 
situation radically changes and — as prominent socialists 
have repeatedly pointed out — force of example for the first 
time is able to influence the people. Model communes must 
and will serve as educators, teachers, helping to raise the 
backward communes. The press must serve as an instrument 
of socialist construction, give publicity to the successes 
achieved by the model communes in all their details, must 
study the causes of these successes, the methods of manage- 
ment these communes employ, and, on the other hand, must 
put on the "black list" those communes which persist in the 
"traditions of capitalism", i.e., anarchy, laziness, disorder 
and profiteering. In capitalist society, statistics were 
entirely a matter for "government servants", or for narrow 
specialists; we must carry statistics to the people and make 
them popular so that the working people themselves may 
gradually learn to understand and see how long and in 
what way it is necessary to work, how much time and in 
what way one may rest, so that the comparison of the 
business results of the various communes may become a matter 
of general interest and study, and that the most outstanding 
communes may be rewarded immediately (by reducing 
the working day, raising remuneration, placing a larger 
amount of cultural or aesthetic facilities or values at their 
disposal, etc.). 

When a new class comes on to the historical scene as 
the leader and guide of society, a period of violent "rocking", 
shocks, struggle and storm, on the one hand, and a period 
of uncertain steps, experiments, wavering, hesitation in 
regard to the selection of new methods corresponding to 
new objective circumstances, On the other, are inevitable. 
The moribund feudal nobility avenged themselves on the 
bourgeoisie which vanquished them and took their place, 
not only by conspiracies and attempts at rebellion and resto- 
ration, but also by pouring ridicule over the lack of skill, 
the clumsiness and the mistakes of the "upstarts" and the 
"insolent" who dared to take over the "sacred helm" of 
state without the centuries of training which the princes, 
barons, nobles and dignitaries had had; in exactly the same 



way the Kornilovs and Kerenskys, the Gotzes and Martovs, 
the whole of that fraternity of heroes of bourgeois swindling 
or bourgeois scepticism, avenge themselves on the working 
class of Russia for having had the "audacity" to take power. 

Of course, not weeks, but long months and years are 
required for a new social class, especially a class which up 
to now has been oppressed and crushed by poverty and igno- 
rance, to get used to its new position, look around, organise 
its work and promote its own organisers. It is understand- 
able that the Party which leads the revolutionary proletar- 
iat has not been able to acquire the experience and habits 
of large organisational undertakings embracing millions and 
tens of millions of citizens; the remoulding of the old, 
almost exclusively agitators' habits is a very lengthy 
process. But there is nothing impossible in this, and as 
soon as the necessity for a change is clearly appreciated, 
as soon as there is firm determination to effect the change 
and perseverance in pursuing a great and difficult aim, we 
shall achieve it. There is an enormous amount of organising 
talent among the "people", i.e., among the workers and the 
peasants who do not exploit the labour of others. Capital 
crushed these talented people in thousands; it killed their 
talent and threw them on to the scrap-heap. We are not yet 
able to find them, encourage them, put them on their feet, 
promote them. But we shall learn to do so if we set about 
it with all-out revolutionary enthusiasm, without which 
there can be no victorious revolutions. 

No profound and mighty popular movement has ever 
occurred in history without dirty scum rising to the top, 
without adventurers and rogues, boasters and ranters 
attaching themselves to the inexperienced innovators, without 
absurd muddle and fuss, without individual "leaders" trying 
to deal with twenty matters at once and not finishing any 
of them. Let the lap-dogs of bourgeois society, from Belo- 
russov to Martov, squeal and yelp about every extra chip 
that is sent flying in cutting down the big, old wood. What 
else are lap-dogs for if not to yelp at the proletarian ele- 
phant? Let them yelp. We shall go our way and try as care- 
fully and as patiently as possible to test and discover real 
organisers, people with sober and practical minds, people 
who combine loyally to socialism with ability without 



fuss (and in spite of muddle and fuss) to get a large number 
of people working together steadily and concertedly within 
the framework of Soviet organisation. Only such people, 
after they have been tested a dozen times, by being trans- 
ferred from the simplest to the more difficult tasks, should 
be promoted to the responsible posts of leaders of the 
people's labour, leaders of administration. We have not yet 
learned to do this, but we shall learn. 


The resolution adopted by the recent Moscow Congress 
of Soviets advanced as the primary task of the moment the 
establishment of a "harmonious organisation", and the tight- 
ening of discipline.* Everyone now readily "votes for" and 
"subscribes to" resolutions of this kind; but usually people 
do not think over the fact that the application of such 
resolutions calls for coercion — coercion precisely in the form 
of dictatorship. And yet it would be extremely stupid and 
absurdly Utopian to assume that the transition from capi- 
talism to socialism is possible without coercion and without 
dictatorship. Marx's theory very definitely opposed this 
petty-bourgeois-democratic and anarchist absurdity long 
ago. And Russia of 1917-18 confirms the correctness of 
Marx's theory in this respect so strikingly, palpably and 
imposingly that only those who are hopelessly dull or who 
have obstinately decided to turn their backs on the truth 
can be under any misapprehension concerning this. Either 
the dictatorship of Kornilov (if we take him as the Russian 
type of bourgeois Cavaignac), or the dictatorship of the 
proletariat — any other choice is out of the question for 
a country which is developing at an extremely rapid rate 
with extremely sharp turns and amidst desperate ruin 
created by one of the most horrible wars in history. Every 
solution that offers a middle path is either a deception of 
the people by the bourgeoisie — for the bourgeoisie dare not 
tell the truth, dare not say that they need Kornilov — or an 
expression of the dull-wittedness of the petty-bourgeois 
democrats, of the Chernovs, Tseretelis and Martovs, who 

See this volume, p. 200.— Ed. 



chatter about the unity of democracy, the dictatorship 
of democracy, the general democratic front, and similar 
nonsense. Those whom even the progress of the Russian 
Revolution of 1917-18 has not taught that a middle course 
is impossible, must be given up for lost. 

On the other hand, it is not difficult to see that during 
every transition from capitalism to socialism, dictator- 
ship is necessary for two main reasons, or along two main 
channels. Firstly, capitalism cannot be defeated and erad- 
icated without the ruthless suppression of the resistance 
of the exploiters, who cannot at once be deprived of their 
wealth, of their advantages of organisation and knowledge, 
and consequently for a fairly long period will inevitably 
try to overthrow the hated rule of the poor; secondly, every 
great revolution, and a socialist revolution in particular, 
even if there is no external war, is inconceivable without 
internal war, i.e., civil war, which is even more devastating 
than external war, and involves thousands and millions 
of cases of wavering and desertion from one side to another, 
implies a state of extreme indefiniteness, lack of equilib- 
rium and chaos. And of course, all the elements of disin- 
tegration of the old society, which are inevitably very 
numerous and connected mainly with the petty bourgeoisie 
(because it is the petty bourgeoisie that every war and 
every crisis ruins and destroys first), are bound to "reveal 
themselves" during such a profound revolution. And these 
elements of disintegration cannot "reveal themselves" other- 
wise than in an increase of crime, hooliganism, corruption, 
profiteering and outrages of every kind. To put these down 
requires time and requires an iron hand. 

There has not been a single great revolution in history 
in which the people did not instinctively realise this and 
did not show salutary firmness by shooting thieves on the 
spot. The misfortune of previous revolutions was that the 
revolutionary enthusiasm of the people, which sustained 
them in their state of tension and gave them the strength 
to suppress ruthlessly the elements of disintegration, did 
not last long. The social, i.e., the class, reason for this 
instability of the revolutionary enthusiasm of the people 
was the weakness of the proletariat, which alone is able 
(if it is sufficiently numerous, class-conscious and disci- 



plined) to win over to its side the majority of the working 
and exploited people (the majority of the poor, to speak 
more simply and popularly) and retain power sufficiently 
long to suppress completely all the exploiters as well as all 
the elements of disintegration. 

It was this historical experience of all revolutions, it 
was this world-historic — economic and political — lesson 
that Marx summed up when he gave his short, sharp, concise 
and expressive formula: dictatorship of the proletariat. 
And the fact that the Russian revolution has been correct 
in its approach to this world-historic task has been proved 
by the victorious progress of the Soviet form of organisa- 
tion among all the peoples and tongues of Russia. For 
Soviet power is nothing but an organisational form of the 
dictatorship of the proletariat, the dictatorship of the ad- 
vanced class, which raises to a new democracy and to inde- 
pendent participation in the administration of the state 
tens upon tens of millions of working and exploited peoples 
who by their own experience learn to regard the disciplined 
and class-conscious vanguard of the proletariat as their 
most reliable leader. 

Dictatorship, however, is a big word, and big words 
should not be thrown about carelessly. Dictatorship is 
iron rule, government that is revolutionarily bold, swift 
and ruthless in suppressing both exploiters and hooligans. 
But our government is excessively mild, very often it 
resembles jelly more than iron. We must not forget for 
a moment that the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois element is 
fighting against the Soviet system in two ways; on the one 
hand, it is operating from without, by the methods of the 
Savinkovs, Gotzes, Gegechkoris and Kornilovs, by conspir- 
acies and rebellions, and by their filthy "ideological" 
reflection, the flood of lies and slander in the Constitutional- 
Democratic, Right Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik 
press; on the other hand, this element operates from within 
and takes advantage of every manifestation of disinte- 
gration, of every weakness, in order to bribe, to increase 
indiscipline, laxity and chaos. The nearer we approach the 
complete military suppression of the bourgeoisie, the more 
dangerous does the element of petty-bourgeois anarchy 
become. And the fight against this element cannot be waged 



solely with the aid of propaganda and agitation, solely by 
organising competition and by selecting organisers. The 
struggle must also be waged by means of coercion. 

As the fundamental task of the government becomes, 
not military suppression, but administration, the typical 
manifestation of suppression and compulsion will be, not 
shooting on the spot, but trial by court. In this respect 
also the revolutionary people after October 25, 1917 took 
the right path and demonstrated the viability of the revo- 
lution by setting up their own workers' and peasants' 
courts, even before the decrees dissolving the bourgeois 
bureaucratic judiciary were passed. But our revolutionary 
and people's courts are extremely, incredibly weak. One 
feels that we have not yet done away with the people's 
attitude towards the courts as towards something official 
and alien, an attitude inherited from the yoke of the landown- 
ers and of the bourgeoisie. It is not yet sufficiently realised 
that the courts are an organ which enlists precisely the 
poor, every one of them, in the work of state administration 
(for the work of the courts is one of the functions of state 
administration), that the courts are an organ of the power 
of the proletariat and of the poor peasants, that the courts 
are an instrument for inculcating discipline. There is not 
yet sufficient appreciation of the simple and obvious fact 
that if the principal misfortunes of Russia at the present 
time are hunger and unemployment, these misfortunes 
cannot be overcome by spurts, but only by comprehensive, 
all-embracing, country-wide organisation and discipline 
in order to increase the output of bread for the people and 
bread for industry (fuel), to transport these in good time 
to the places where they are required, and to distribute 
them properly; and it is not fully appreciated that, conse- 
quently, it is those who violate labour discipline at any 
factory, in any undertaking, in any matter, who are respon- 
sible for the sufferings caused by the famine and unemploy- 
ment, that we must know how to find the guilty ones, to 
bring them to trial and ruthlessly punish them. Where the 
petty-bourgeois anarchy against which we must now wage 
a most persistent struggle makes itself felt is in the failure 
to appreciate the economic and political connection between 
famine and unemployment, on the one hand, and general 



laxity in matters of organisation and discipline, on the 
other — in the tenacity of the small-proprietor outlook, 
namely, I'll grab all I can for myself; the rest can go hang. 

In the rail transport service, which perhaps most strik- 
ingly embodies the economic ties of an organism created by 
large-scale capitalism, the struggle between the element of 
petty-bourgeois laxity and proletarian organisation is 
particularly evident. The "administrative" elements provide 
a host of saboteurs and bribe-takers; the best part of the 
proletarian elements fight for discipline; but among both 
elements there are, of course, many waverers and "weak" 
characters who are unable to withstand the "temptation" 
of profiteering, bribery, personal gain obtained by spoiling 
the whole apparatus, upon the proper working of which the 
victory over famine and unemployment depends. 

The struggle that has been developing around the recent 
decree on the management of the railways, the decree which 
grants individual executives dictatorial powers (or "unlim- 
ited" powers), 108 is characteristic. The conscious (and to a 
large extent, probably, unconscious) representatives of petty- 
bourgeois laxity would like to see in this granting of "un- 
limited" (i.e., dictatorial) powers to individuals a departure 
from the collegiate principle, from democracy and from the 
principles of Soviet government. Here and there, among 
Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, a positively hooligan agi- 
tation, i.e., agitation appealing to the base instincts and 
to the small proprietor's urge to "grab all he can", has been 
developed against the dictatorship decree. The question 
has become one of really enormous significance. Firstly, the 
question of principle, namely, is the appointment of indi- 
viduals, dictators with unlimited powers, in general com- 
patible with the fundamental principles of Soviet govern- 
ment? Secondly, what relation has this case — this precedent, 
if you will — to the special tasks of government in the 
present concrete situation? We must deal very thoroughly 
with both these questions. 

That in the history of revolutionary movements the dic- 
tatorship of individuals was very often the expression, the 
vehicle, the channel of the dictatorship of the revolutionary 
classes has been shown by the irrefutable experience of 
history. Undoubtedly, the dictatorship of individuals was 



compatible with bourgeois democracy. On this point, how- 
ever, the bourgeois denigrators of the Soviet system, as 
well as their petty-bourgeois henchmen, always display 
sleight of hand: on the one hand, they declare the 
Soviet system to be something absurd, anarchistic and 
savage, and carefully pass over in silence all our his- 
torical examples and theoretical arguments which prove 
that the Soviets are a higher form of democracy, and what 
is more, the beginning of a socialist form of democracy; 
on the other hand, they demand of us a higher democracy 
than bourgeois democracy and say: personal dictatorship 
is absolutely incompatible with your, Bolshevik (i.e., not 
bourgeois, but socialist), Soviet democracy. 

These are exceedingly poor arguments. If we are not 
anarchists, we must admit that the state, that is, coercion, 
is necessary for the transition from capitalism to socialism. 
The form of coercion is determined by the degree of 
development of the given revolutionary class, and also by 
special circumstances, such as, for example, the legacy of 
a long and reactionary war and the forms of resistance put 
up by the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie. There is, 
therefore, absolutely no contradiction in principle between 
Soviet (that is, socialist) democracy and the exercise of 
dictatorial powers by individuals. The difference between 
proletarian dictatorship and bourgeois dictatorship is that 
the former strikes at the exploiting minority in the interests 
of the exploited majority, and that it is exercised — also 
through individuals — not only by the working and exploited 
people, but also by organisations which are built in such 
a way as to rouse these people to history-making activity. 
(The Soviet organisations are organisations of this kind.) 

In regard to the second question, concerning the sig- 
nificance of individual dictatorial powers from the point of 
view of the specific tasks of the present moment, it must be 
said that large-scale machine industry — which is precisely 
the material source, the productive source, the foundation 
of socialism — calls for absolute and strict unity of will, 
which directs the joint labours of hundreds, thousands and 
tens of thousands of people. The technical, economic and 
historical necessity of this is obvious, and all those who 
have thought about socialism have always regarded it as 



one of the conditions of socialism. But how can strict unity 
of will be ensured? By thousands subordinating their will 
to the will of one. 

Given ideal class-consciousness and discipline on the 
part of those participating in the common work, this subor- 
dination would be something like the mild leadership of a 
conductor of an orchestra. It may assume the sharp forms 
of a dictatorship if ideal discipline and class-consciousness 
are lacking. But be that as it may, unquestioning subordi- 
nation to a single will is absolutely necessary for the success 
of processes organised on the pattern of large-scale machine 
industry. On the railways it is twice and three times as 
necessary. In this transition from one political task to 
another, which on the surface is totally dissimilar to the 
first, lies the whole originality of the present situation. 
The revolution has only just smashed the oldest, strongest 
and heaviest of fetters, to which the people submitted under 
duress. That was yesterday. Today, however, the same 
revolution demands — precisely in the interests of its 
development and consolidation, precisely in the interests of 
socialism — that the people unquestioningly obey the single 
will of the leaders of labour. Of course, such a transition 
cannot be made at one step. Clearly, it can be achieved 
only as a result of tremendous jolts, shocks, reversions to 
old ways, the enormous exertion of effort on the part of 
the proletarian vanguard, which is leading the people to 
the new ways. Those who drop into the philistine hysterics 
of Novaya Zhizn or Vperyod, 109 Dyelo Naroda or Nash 
Vek 110 do not stop to think about this. 

Take the psychology of the average, ordinary represent- 
ative of the toiling and exploited masses, compare it with 
the objective, material conditions of his life in society. 
Before the October Revolution he did not see a single instance 
of the propertied, exploiting classes making any real sacri- 
fice for him, giving up anything for his benefit. He did not 
see them giving him the land and liberty that had been 
repeatedly promised him, giving him peace, sacrificing "Great 
Power" interests and the interests of Great Power secret 
treaties, sacrificing capital and profits. He saw this only 
after October 25, 1917, when he took it himself by force, 
and had to defend by force what he had taken, against the 



Kerenskys, Gotzes, Gegechkoris, Dutovs and Kornilovs. 
Naturally, for a certain time, all his attention, all his 
thoughts, all his spiritual strength, were concentrated on 
taking a breath, on unbending his back, on straightening 
his shoulders, on taking the blessings of life that were there 
for the taking, and that had always been denied him by the 
now overthrown exploiters. Of course, a certain amount 
of time is required to enable the ordinary working man 
not only to see for himself, not only to become convinced, 
but also to feel that he cannot simply "take", snatch, grab 
things, that this leads to increased disruption, to ruin, to 
the return of the Kornilovs. The corresponding change in 
the conditions of life (and consequently in the psychology) 
of the ordinary working men is only just beginning. And 
our whole task, the task of the Communist Party (Bolshe- 
viks), which is the class-conscious spokesman for the striv- 
ings of the exploited for emancipation, is to appreciate this 
change, to understand that it is necessary, to stand at the 
head of the exhausted people who are wearily seeking a 
way out and lead them along the true path, along the path 
of labour discipline, along the path of co-ordinating the 
task of arguing at mass meetings about the conditions 
of work with the task of unquestioningly obeying the will 
of the Soviet leader, of the dictator, during the work. 

The "mania for meetings" is an object of the ridicule, 
and still more often of the spiteful hissing of the bourgeoisie, 
the Mensheviks, the Novaya Zhizn people, who see only 
the chaos, the confusion and the outbursts of small-proprietor 
egoism. But without the discussions at public meetings 
the mass of the oppressed could never have changed from 
the discipline forced upon them by the exploiters to con- 
scious, voluntary discipline. The airing of questions at public 
meetings is the genuine democracy of the working people, 
their way of unbending their backs, their awakening to a 
new life, their first steps along the road which they themselves 
have cleared of vipers (the exploiters, the imperialists, 
the landowners and capitalists) and which they want to learn 
to build themselves, in their own way, for themselves, on 
the principles of their own Soviet, and not alien, not aris- 
tocratic, not bourgeois rule. It required precisely the October 
victory of the working people over the exploiters, it required 



a whole historical period in which the working people 
themselves could first of all discuss the new conditions of 
life and the new tasks, in order to make possible the durable 
transition to superior forms of labour discipline, to the 
conscious appreciation of the necessity for the dictatorship 
of the proletariat, to unquestioning obedience to the or- 
ders of individual representatives of the Soviet government 
during the work. 

This transition has now begun. 

We have successfully fulfilled the first task of the revo- 
lution; we have seen how the mass of working people evolved 
in themselves the fundamental condition for its success: 
they united their efforts against the exploiters in order to 
overthrow them. Stages like that of October 1905, February 
and October 1917 are of world-historic significance. 

We have successfully fulfilled the second task of the 
revolution: to awaken, to raise those very "lower ranks" 
of society whom the exploiters had pushed down, and who 
only after October 25, 1917 obtained complete freedom to 
overthrow the exploiters and to begin to take stock of things 
and arrange life in their own way. The airing of questions 
at public meetings by the most oppressed and downtrodden, 
by the least educated mass of working people, their coming 
over to the side of the Bolsheviks, their setting up every- 
where of their own Soviet organisations — this was the second 
great stage of the revolution. 

The third stage is now beginning. We must consolidate 
what we ourselves have won, what we ourselves have decreed, 
made law, discussed, planned — consolidate all this in stable 
forms of everyday labour discipline. This is the most dif- 
ficult, but the most gratifying task, because only its ful- 
filment will give us a socialist system. We must learn to 
combine the "public meeting" democracy of the working 
people — turbulent, surging, overflowing its banks like 
a spring flood — with iron discipline while at work, with 
unquestioning obedience to the will of a single person, the 
Soviet leader, while at work. 

We have not yet learned to do this. 

We shall learn it. 

Yesterday we were menaced by the restoration of bour- 
geois exploitation, personified by the Kornilovs, Gotzes, 



Dutovs, Gegechkoris and Bogayevskys. We conquered them. 
This restoration, this very same restoration menaces us 
today in another form, in the form of the element of petty- 
bourgeois laxity and anarchism, or small-proprietor "it's 
not my business" psychology, in the form of the daily, 
petty, but numerous sorties and attacks of this element against 
proletarian discipline. We must, and we shall, vanquish 
this element of petty-bourgeois anarchy. 


The socialist character of Soviet, i.e., proletarian, 
democracy, as concretely applied today, lies first in the fact 
that the electors are the working and exploited people; 
the bourgeoisie is excluded. Secondly, it lies in the fact 
that all bureaucratic formalities and restrictions of elec- 
tions are abolished; the people themselves determine the 
order and time of elections, and are completely free to recall 
any elected person. Thirdly, it lies in the creation of the 
best mass organisation of the vanguard of the working 
people, i.e., the proletariat engaged in large-scale industry, 
which enables it to lead the vast mass of the exploited, 
to draw them into independent political life, to educate 
them politically by their own experience; therefore for the 
first time a start is made by the entire population in learn- 
ing the art of administration, and in beginning to administer. 

These are the principal distinguishing features of the 
democracy now applied in Russia, which is a higher type 
of democracy, a break with the bourgeois distortion of 
democracy, transition to socialist democracy and to the 
conditions in which the state can begin to wither away. 

It goes without saying that the element of petty-bour- 
geois disorganisation (which must inevitably be apparent to 
some extent in every proletarian revolution, and which is 
especially apparent in our revolution, owing to the petty- 
bourgeois character of our country, its backwardness and 
the consequences of a reactionary war) cannot but leave 
its impress upon the Soviets as well. 

We must work unremittingly to develop the organisation 
of the Soviets and of the Soviet government. There is 
a petty-bourgeois tendency to transform the members of the 



Soviets into "parliamentarians", or else into bureaucrats. 
We must combat this by drawing all the members of the 
Soviets into the practical work of administration. In many 
places the departments of the Soviets are gradually merging 
with the Commissariats. Our aim is to draw the whole of 
the poor into the practical work of administration, and 
all steps that are taken in this direction — the more varied 
they are, the better — should be carefully recorded, studied, 
systematised, tested by wider experience and embodied in 
law. Our aim is to ensure that every toiler, having finished 
his eight hours' "task" in productive labour, shall perform 
state duties without pay; the transition to this is particularly 
difficult, but this transition alone can guarantee the final 
consolidation of socialism. Naturally, the novelty and 
difficulty of the change lead to an abundance of steps being 
taken, as it were, gropingly, to an abundance of mistakes, 
vacillation — without this, any marked progress is impos- 
sible. The reason why the present position seems peculiar 
to many of those who would like to be regarded as socialists 
is that they have been accustomed to contrasting capitalism 
with socialism abstractly, and that they profoundly put 
between the two the word "leap" (some of them; recalling 
fragments of what they have read of Engels's writings, 
still more profoundly add the phrase "leap from the realm 
of necessity into the realm of freedom" 111 ). The majority 
of these so-called socialists, who have "read in books" 
about socialism but who have never seriously thought 
over the matter, are unable to consider that by "leap" 
the teachers of socialism meant turning-points on a world- 
historical scale, and that leaps of this kind extend over 
decades and even longer periods. Naturally, in such times, 
the notorious "intelligentsia" provides an infinite number of 
mourners of the dead. Some mourn over the Constituent 
Assembly, others mourn over bourgeois discipline, others 
again mourn over the capitalist system, still others mourn 
over the cultured landowner, and still others again mourn 
over imperialist Great Power policy, etc., etc. 

The real interest of the epoch of great leaps lies in the 
fact that the abundance of fragments of the old, which 
sometimes accumulate more rapidly than the rudiments 
(not always immediately discernible) of the new, calls for 



the ability to discern what is most important in the line or 
chain of development. History knows moments when the 
most important thing for the success of the revolution is 
to heap up as large a quantity of the fragments as possible, 
i.e., to blow up as many of the old institutions as possible; 
moments arise when enough has been blown up and the 
next task is to perform the "prosaic" (for the petty-bour- 
geois revolutionary, the "boring") task of clearing away 
the fragments; and moments arise when the careful nursing 
of the rudiments of the new system, which are growing 
amidst the wreckage on a soil which as yet has been badly 
cleared of rubble, is the most important thing. 

It is not enough to be a revolutionary and an adherent 
of socialism or a Communist in general. You must be able 
at each particular moment to find the particular link in 
the chain which you must grasp with all your might in order 
to hold the whole chain and to prepare firmly for the tran- 
sition to the next link; the order of the links, their form, 
the manner in which they are linked together, the way they 
differ from each other in the historical chain of events, are 
not as simple and not as meaningless as those in an ordinary 
chain made by a smith. 

The fight against the bureaucratic distortion of the 
Soviet form of organisation is assured by the firmness of the 
connection between the Soviets and the "people", meaning 
by that the working and exploited people, and by the flexi- 
bility and elasticity of this connection. Even in the most 
democratic capitalist republics in the world, the poor never 
regard the bourgeois parliament as "their" institution. 
But the Soviets are "theirs" and not alien institutions 
to the mass of workers and peasants. The modern "Social- 
Democrats" of the Scheidemann or, what is almost the same 
thing, of the Martov type are repelled by the Soviets, and 
they are drawn towards the respectable bourgeois parlia- 
ment, or to the Constituent Assembly, in the same way as 
Turgenev, sixty years ago, was drawn towards a moderate 
monarchist and noblemen's Constitution and was repelled 
by the peasant democracy of Dobrolyubov and Chernyshev- 
sky. 112 

It is the closeness of the Soviets to the "people", to the 
working people, that creates the special forms of recall 



and other means of control from below which must be most 
zealously developed now. For example, the Councils of 
Public Education, as periodical conferences of Soviet electors 
and their delegates called to discuss and control the activ- 
ities of the Soviet authorities in this field, deserve full 
sympathy and support. Nothing could be sillier than to 
transform the Soviets into something congealed and self- 
contained. The more resolutely we now have to stand for 
a ruthlessly firm government, for the dictatorship of individ- 
uals in definite processes of work, in definite aspects of 
purely executive functions, the more varied must be the 
forms and methods of control from below in order to coun- 
teract every shadow of a possibility of distorting the prin- 
ciples of Soviet government, in order repeatedly and tire- 
lessly to weed out bureaucracy. 


An extraordinarily difficult, complex and dangerous 
situation in international affairs; the necessity of manoeuvr- 
ing and retreating; a period of waiting for new outbreaks 
of the revolution which is maturing in the West at a pain- 
fully slow pace; within the country a period of slow con- 
struction and ruthless "tightening up", of prolonged and 
persistent struggle waged by stern, proletarian discipline 
against the menacing element of petty-bourgeois laxity 
and anarchy — these in brief are the distinguishing features 
of the special stage of the socialist revolution in which we 
are now living. This is the link in the historical chain 
of events which we must at present grasp with all our might 
in order to prove equal to the tasks that confront us before 
passing to the next link to which we are drawn by a special 
brightness, the brightness of the victories of the interna- 
tional proletarian revolution. 

Try to compare with the ordinary everyday concept 
"revolutionary" the slogans that follow from the specific con- 
ditions of the present stage, namely, manoeuvre, retreat, 
wait, build slowly, ruthlessly tighten up, rigorously dis- 
cipline, smash laxity Is it surprising that when certain 

"revolutionaries" hear this they are seized with noble 
indignation and begin to "thunder" abuse at us for forgetting 



the traditions of the October Revolution, for compromising 
with the bourgeois experts, for compromising with the 
bourgeoisie, for being petty bourgeois, reformists, and so 
on and so forth? 

The misfortune of these sorry "revolutionaries" is that 
even those of them who are prompted by the best motives 
in the world and are absolutely loyal to the cause of social- 
ism fail to understand the particular, and particularly 
"unpleasant", condition that a backward country, which 
has been lacerated by a reactionary and disastrous war 
and which began the socialist revolution long before the 
more advanced countries, inevitably has to pass through; 
they lack stamina in the difficult moments of a difficult 
transition. Naturally, it is the "Left Socialist-Revolution- 
aries" who are acting as an "official" opposition of this 
kind against our Party. Of course, there are and always 
will be individual exceptions from group and class types. 
But social types remain. In the land in which the small- 
proprietor population greatly predominates over the purely 
proletarian population, the difference between the prole- 
tarian revolutionary and petty-bourgeois revolutionary 
will inevitably make itself felt, and from time to time will 
make itself felt very sharply. The petty-bourgeois revolu- 
tionary wavers and vacillates at every turn of events; he 
is an ardent revolutionary in March 1917 and praises "coa- 
lition" in May, hates the Bolsheviks (or laments over their 
"adventurism") in July and apprehensively turns away 
from them at the end of October, supports them in Decem- 
ber, and, finally, in March and April 1918 such types, more 
often than not, turn up their noses contemptuously and 
say: "I am not one of those who sing hymns to 'organic' 
work, to practicalness and gradualism." 

The social origin of such types is the small proprietor, 
who has been driven to frenzy by the horrors of war, by 
sudden ruin, by unprecedented torments of famine and 
devastation, who hysterically rushes about seeking a way 
out, seeking salvation, places his confidence in the prole- 
tariat and supports it one moment and the next gives way 
to fits of despair. We must clearly understand and firmly 
remember the fact that socialism cannot be built on such 
a social basis. The only class that can lead the working and 



exploited people is the class that unswervingly follows its 
path without losing courage and without giving way to 
despair even at the most difficult, arduous and dangerous 
stages. Hysterical impulses are of no use to us. What we 
need is the steady advance of the iron battalions of the 


APRIL 29, 1918 

First published in 1920 
in the book: Minutes 
of the Sessions 
of the All-Russia C.E.C, 

4th Convocation. 
Verbatim Report, Moscow 

Published according to 
the text of the book, 
collated with the verbatim report 
and with the text of the pamphlet: 
N. Lenin (V. I. Ulyanov), 
Old Articles on Almost New 
Subjects, Moscow, 1922 





Comrades, as regards my report, I shall have to present 
the question today in a somewhat unusual fashion. The 
point is that the real report is my article on the immediate 
tasks of the Soviet government,* which was published on 
Sunday in two newspapers, and with which I presume 
the majority of those present are acquainted. 

Hence I consider that there is no need for me now to 
repeat here what was said in the report and I can confine 
myself merely to additions to and explanations of the 
report. I think that the most suitable form for such 
explanations now will be that of a polemic, because the ques- 
tion I have touched on in these theses on immediate tasks 
is nothing but a development of the resolution already 
adopted by the All-Russia Extraordinary Congress in Mos- 
cow on March 15,** a resolution which was not confined 
to the question of peace then under discussion, but pointed 
out also the chief task of the present time, the organisational 
task, the task of self-discipline, the task of combating 

It is this that has been the basis, it seems to me, of our 
political trends, or the chief lines of our political trends, 
which have become fairly definitely marked in the recent 
period. I think, therefore, that a polemical form can most 
clearly confirm what I tried to sketch in a positive form in 
my article on immediate tasks. 

* See this volume, pp. 235-77.— Ed. 
**Ibid., pp. 200-01.— Ed. 



Comrades, if you look at the political trends of contem- 
porary Russia you are above all confronted with the task — 
here too, as always, so as not to make any mistake in your 
appraisal — of trying to look at all the trends taken to- 
gether, for only in this way, only on this condition, can 
we safeguard ourselves from the errors involved in select- 
ing particular examples. It is clearly possible to find any 
number of examples to confirm some particular proposi- 
tion. But that is not the essence of the matter. We can 
try to get near to elucidating the connection between what 
is happening to the political trends in the country, taking 
these trends as a whole, and what is happening to the class 
interests, which are always manifested in big, serious and 
powerful political trends, only if we examine these trends 
as a whole, in their totality. 

And so, if we take a look at the big political trends in 
Russia, it cannot be disputed, I think, that they are clearly 
and unquestionably divisible into three big groups. In the 
first group we have the entire bourgeoisie, united wholly 
and strongly, as one man, in the most determined, one 
might say reckless, "opposition" to the Soviet government. 
It is, of course, an opposition in quotation marks, because 
in fact we have here a furious struggle, which at this mo- 
ment has drawn to the side of the bourgeoisie all those 
petty-bourgeois parties which agreed with Kerensky during 
the revolution. These are the Mensheviks, the Novaya 
Zhizn adherents and the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, 
who outdid even the bourgeoisie in the fury of their attacks 
on us, for it is well known that very often the fury of attacks 
and the loudness of yelping are inversely proportional to 
the strength of the political elements from which the furious 
attacks proceed. {Applause.) 

The entire bourgeoisie and all its yes-men and servitors, 
of the Chernov and Tsereteli type, joined in furious attacks 
against the Soviet system. With an eye to the pleasant 
prospect which has been realised by their friends, their 
political fellow-thinkers in the Ukraine, they are all long- 
ing to conclude a peace which would allow them, with the 
help of German bayonets and the bourgeoisie at home, to 
suppress the influence of the Bolsheviks. This is only too 
well known. We see a beautiful example of such friends in 


the shape of Chkhenkeli in the Caucasus. Everyone will 
remember this from the newspapers. 

It is obvious that the proletariat, having taken power 
and launched the dictatorship of the working people, the 
dictatorship of the very poor over the exploiters, could 
not, of course, meet with anything else. 

On the one hand, we have one flank, one front, com- 
pletely united. If we are sometimes proffered dreams of a 
united democratic front, I at least, in the rare moments 
when I have occasion to pick up bourgeois newspapers, in 
the rare event of having the pleasure of reading such news- 
papers as Nash Vek, Dyelo Naroda, etc., even if only glanc- 
ing at all these newspapers, I always think: what more do 
you need for unity of the democratic front? 

All this unity of the democratic front they have to the 
full, and we can only rejoice at this unity, for — in so far 
as fragments of this bourgeois journalism come the way of 
the masses — it is not unity of a democratic front but unity 
of attacks on the Bolsheviks. And this unity of the front, 
from Milyukov to Martov, has deserved that we should 
put it on a roll of honour on May Day for excellent propa- 
ganda in favour of the Bolsheviks. 

Comrades, if you take the other, opposite camp, you 
will see there now only our Party, the Party of Communist 
Bolsheviks. Events have developed in such a way that our 
allies during a great part of the post-October period — the 
Left S.R.s — have at present resigned from formal partici- 
pation in the government. Their last Congress marked 
especially vividly the extreme vacillation in this party, 114 
and this has now been shown more clearly than ever, since 
even in the press this party also gives expression to its 
complete confusion and complete vacillation. 

If you decided to draw a graph showing how this party 
from February 1917 — of course, prior to the split of the 
S.R.s into a Left and a Right wing — if you decided to draw 
a graph showing month by month on which side this party 
stood, on the side of the proletariat or on the side of the 
bourgeoisie, and if you were to continue drawing it for 
a year, the result would be a graph looking like a medical 
chart, at the sight of which everyone would say: here is 
a remarkable case of fever, a remarkably persistent fever! 



In point of fact, hardly any other party has undergone 
such permanent and continual vacillations in the history 
of the revolution. 

And so, if we take all these three main trends and look 
at them, it will become clear to us that such an alignment 
is not accidental, that it fully confirms what we Bolshe- 
viks had occasion to point out in 1915, while still abroad, 
when the first news began to arrive that the revolution in 
Russia was growing, that it was inevitable — and when we had 
to answer questions about what the situation of the party 
would be if events put it in power while the war was still 
going on. At that time we had to say: it is possible that the 
revolution will win a decisive victory, this is possible 
from the class standpoint if at the decisive moments and 
decisive points the leading elements of the petty bourgeoisie 
waver to the side of the proletariat*; and that is literally 
what happened, that is the course the history of the Russian 
revolution took and is taking at the present moment. Of 
course, in these vacillations of the petty-bourgeois ele- 
ments we cannot find the slightest grounds for pessimism, 
not to speak of despair. It is clear that revolution in 
a country which has turned against the imperialist war 
earlier than other countries, revolution in a backward 
country which, to a considerable extent owing to this 
backwardness, events have put — of course, for a short time 
and, of course, in particular questions — in front of other, 
more advanced countries, this revolution, of course, is 
inevitably doomed to experience moments of the greatest 
difficulty and gravity, and most disheartening as well in 
the near future. For it to hold its front and its allies, for 
it to manage without waverers at such moments, would be 
absolutely unnatural; it would mean completely leaving 
out of account the class character of the revolution, and 
the nature of the parties and political groupings. 

And so, if we look at the sum total of the political trends 
in Russia from the standpoint of the immediate tasks, 
from the standpoint of how the real, immediate and prime 
tasks confront us, the tasks of organisation and discipline, 
the tasks of accounting and control, we see that there is 

See present edition, Vol. 21, p. 403.— Ed. 


not the slightest attempt to make a real assessment of this 
task in the camp which is united in a single democratic 
front from Milyukov to Martov. There is not and cannot be 
such an assessment because there is only a single malevo- 
lent desire there — and the more vicious it is, the more it 
does honour to us — to find some possibility, or hint, or dream, 
of the overthrow of the Soviet regime, and nothing else. 
Unfortunately, representatives of the party of Left S.R.s 
have actually expressed most of all — in spite of the very 
great devotion to the revolution displayed by a large number 
of members of this party who have always shown much 
initiative and energy — they have displayed vacillation 
precisely over the immediate tasks of the present moment 
in regard to proletarian discipline, accounting, organisa- 
tion and control, tasks which became natural for socialists 
when power had been won and the military attacks ranging 
from the Kerenskys and Krasnovs to the Kornilovs, Gegech- 
koris and Alexeyevs had been repulsed. 

Now, when for the first time we have come to the vital 
core of the development of the revolution, the question is 
whether proletarian discipline and organisation will pre- 
vail, or whether victory will go to the petty-bourgeois 
element, which is especially strong in Russia. 

For our opponents from the petty-bourgeois camp, the 
chief arena of struggle against us is the sphere of home 
policy and economic construction; their weapon is the 
undermining of everything that the proletariat decrees 
and endeavours to bring about in the matter of building 
an organised, socialist economy. Here the petty-bourgeois 
element — the element of petty proprietors and unbridled 
selfishness — acts as the determined enemy of the proletar- 

And in the graph shown by the petty bourgeoisie through- 
out the events of the revolution we see their most marked 
withdrawal from us. Naturally we find here in this camp 
the chief opposition to the immediate and current tasks of 
the moment, opposition in the more exact sense of the 
word; here we have the opposition of people who do not 
reject agreement with us in principle, who support us on 
more essential questions than those on which they criticise, 
an opposition that is combined with support. 



We shall not be surprised if in the pages of the Left S.R. 
press we come across such statements as those I found in 
Znamya Truda 115 of April 25. It writes: "The Right-wing 
Bolsheviks are ratifiers" (a horribly contemptuous nick- 
name). What would happen if the opposite nickname was 
given to the warriors? Would it produce a less horrible 
impression? Well, if one encounters such trends in Bolshe- 
vism, it is an indication of something. It was on April 25 
that I happened to look at the theses in a newspaper 
that gave a political characterisation of us. When I read this 
thesis I thought this must be someone from Kommunist, the 
newspaper of the "Left Communists" or from their magazine — 
there is so much that is similar here; but I was destined 
to disillusionment, because it turned out to be a thesis of 
Isuv's, published in the newspaper Vperyod. 116 (Laughter, 

And so, comrades, when we observe such political 
phenomena as the solidarity of Znamya Truda with a 
particular trend of Bolshevism or with some sort 
of formulation of Menshevik theses of the very party that 
pursued the policy of an alliance with Kerensky, of the 
very party in which Tsereteli concluded an agreement with 
the bourgeoisie, when we meet with attacks exactly coin- 
ciding with those emanating from the group of Left Com- 
munists and the new magazine — there is something amiss 
here. There is something here which sheds light on the 
real significance of these attacks, and it is worth while 
paying attention to these attacks if only because we have 
here an opportunity of assessing the chief tasks of the 
Soviet government in disputes with people with whom it is 
worth while disputing, because here we have Marxist theory, 
and we can take into consideration the significance of 
the events of the revolution and the undoubted desire to 
seek out the truth. Here the main basis for a real debate 
is provided by devotion to socialism and the obvious resolve 
to be on the side of the proletariat, against the bourgeoisie, 
whatever errors — in the opinion of particular persons, 
groups or trends — may have been committed in this respect 
by the proletariat in fighting against the bourgeoisie. 

When I say that it is worth while disputing with them, 
I mean by a worth-while dispute, of course, not a polemic, 


but the fact that the question concerns a dispute over the 
most essential, fundamental problem of the present time. 
It is no accident that it is along this line that disputes are 
taking place. Objectively, it is along this line that the 
cardinal task lies at the present time — the task of the 
revolutionary struggle of the proletariat, which is dictated 
by the existing conditions in Russia and which has to be 
carried out in every way in the presence of an abundance of 
the most diverse petty-bourgeois trends, and when there is 
every need for the proletariat to say to itself that on this 
point it cannot make any concessions, because the socialist 
revolution, begun by wresting power from the bourgeoisie 
and continued by smashing all resistance of the bourgeoisie, 
places firmly in the forefront the problems of proletarian 
discipline and organisation of the working people and 
ability to tackle the work with strictly businesslike methods 
and knowledge of the interests of large-scale industry. 
These problems the proletariat must solve in practice, for 
otherwise it will suffer defeat. — Here is the chief, real 
difficulty of the socialist revolution. — This is the reason 
why it is so worth while, so important, in the historical 
and political sense of the word, to argue with the repre- 
sentatives of the group of Left Communists, in spite of the 
fact that, taking their position and theory and examining 
it, we see there, I repeat — and I shall prove it in a moment — 
absolutely nothing but the same petty-bourgeois waverings. 
The comrades of the group of Left Communists, whatever 
they call themselves, strike a blow primarily at their own 
theses. I assume that their views are known to the great 
majority of those at this meeting, because we have discussed 
the essence of them in Bolshevik circles, starting from the 
beginning of March, while those who have not taken an 
interest in the major political literature must have got to 
know and must have discussed these views in connection 
with the disputes that arose at the last All-Russia Congress 
of Soviets. 

And so, we see in their theses primarily the same thing 
that we see now in the whole S.R. party, the same thing that 
we see now both in the Right-wing camp and in the camp 
of the bourgeoisie from Milyukov to Martov, for whom these 
present difficulties of the situation for Russia are especially 



painful from the point of view of the loss of her position as a 
Great Power, from the point of view of her conversion from 
the old nation, an oppressing state, into an oppressed 
country, from the standpoint of deciding not on paper but 
in practice whether the hardships of the road to socialism 
are worth while, whether the hardships of the newly-begun 
socialist revolution are worth while, whether it is worth 
while that the country should undergo the most difficult 
situations as regards its statehood, as regards its national 

Here the deepest division of all is between those for 
whom that state independence is, as it is for all the bour- 
geoisie, an ideal and a boundary, their holy of holies — a 
boundary which must not be crossed and an encroachment on 
which is a denial of socialism — and those who say that in 
the age of frenzied imperialist slaughter for redivision of 
the world the socialist revolution cannot proceed without 
very heavy defeats for many nations which were formerly 
considered oppressors. And so, however painful it is for 
mankind, socialists, class-conscious socialists are ready to 
undergo all such trials. 

The Left S.R.s have wavered most of all on this basis, 
which is most of all unacceptable to them, and it is just on 
this basis that we see the greatest waverings among the Left 

In their theses, which, as we know, they discussed with 
us on April 4, 117 and which they published on April 20, 
they keep returning to the question of peace. 

They devote the greatest attention to appraising the 
question of peace and thereby try to prove that peace is a 
manifestation of the psychology of the exhausted and 
declassed masses. 

How very comic their arguments are, when they quote 
their figures: that 12 were against and 28 were for the con- 
clusion of peace. 118 But if one is to collect statistics, and 
if the vote of a month and a half ago is to be recalled, should 
one not take more recent figures. If political significance 
is to be attached to that vote, should one not call to mind 
the vote of the All-Ukraine Congress of Soviets 119 before 
saying that the healthy South was against peace, while 
the exhausted, declassed, industrially weakened North 


was allegedly for peace. Should one not call to mind the 
vote of the majority of the group at the All-Russia Congress of 
Soviets, in which not even one-tenth were against peace. 
If figures are to be recalled and political significance 
attached to them, the political voting needs to be taken as 
a whole, and then you will see at once that the parties 
which learnt certain slogans by heart, which made a fetish 
of these slogans, proved to be on the side of the petty bour- 
geoisie, while the mass of the working and exploited people, the 
mass of workers, soldiers and peasants, did not reject peace. 

And now, when alongside the criticism of this stand for 
peace the allegation is made that it was insisted upon by the 
exhausted, declassed masses, while we see clearly that it 
was the declassed intelligentsia that was against peace, 
when we are given the appraisal of events that I read in the 
newspapers — this fact shows us that on the question of the 
conclusion of peace the majority of our Party was absolutely 
right, that when we were told that the game was not worth 
the candle, that all the imperialists had already combined 
against us and would in any case strangle us, bring us into 
disgrace, etc. — we nevertheless concluded peace. It not 
only seemed to them disgraceful, it seems to them of no 
avail. They told us that we would not gain a respite. And 
when we replied: it is impossible to know how international 
relations will develop, but we do know that the imperialist 
enemies are fighting one another, events confirmed this, 
and it was acknowledged by the group of Left Communists, 
our opponents in ideology and principle, who by and large 
adopt the standpoint of communism. 

This phrase alone is a complete recognition of the cor- 
rectness of our tactics and the fullest condemnation of those 
waverings on the question of peace which most of all drove 
away from us a certain wing of our supporters, both the 
entire wing grouped in the party of Left S.R.s, and the 
wing which has existed and still exists in our Party, and 
which one can confidently say will remain there, and which 
in its vacillations especially clearly reveals the source of 
these vacillations. Yes, the peace which we have arrived 
at is in the highest degree unstable; the respite which we 
have gained may be cut short any day both from the West 
and from the East — of this there is no doubt. Our interna- 



tional situation is so critical that we must exert all our 
strength to hold out as long as possible, until the Western 
revolution matures, the Western revolution which is 
maturing much more slowly than we expected and desired, 
but is undoubtedly maturing; it is undoubtedly absorbing 
and accumulating more and more inflammable material. 

If we, as a separate contingent of the world proletariat, 
have been the first to go forward, it is not because this 
contingent has been more strongly organised than others. 
No, it is worse, more weakly and less organised than others, 
but it would be the height of stupidity and pedantry to 
argue, as many do: well, if things had been begun by the 
most organised contingent, and if it had been followed by 
one less well organised, and after that by one with a third- 
rate organisation, then we should willingly have been sup- 
porters of the socialist revolution. But since things did not 
go according to the book, since it turned out that the leading 
contingent was not supported by other contingents, our 
revolution is doomed to perish. We, on the other hand, 
say: no, our task is to transform the organisation in general; 
our task, since we are alone, is to maintain the revo- 
lution, to preserve for it at least a certain bastion of social- 
ism, however weak and moderately sized, until the revo- 
lution matures in other countries, until other contingents 
come up to us. But to expect history to set the socialist 
contingents of the various countries in motion in strict 
sequence and according to a plan, means to have no notion 
of revolution or, out of stupidity, to renounce support of 
the socialist revolution. 

At a time when we have found out for ourselves and 
proved that we have a firm position in Russia but do not 
have forces to oppose international imperialism, we have 
only one task, our tactics become those of manoeuvring, 
waiting and retreat. I am very well aware that these words 
cannot claim to be popular and that if they are given an 
appropriate turn and put in association with the word "coa- 
lition", then the way is wide open here for piquant compari- 
sons and for all kinds of reproaches and scoffing. But 
however much our adversaries — the bourgeoisie — on the Right 
and Our friends of yesterday on the Left, the Left S.R.s, 
and our friends — friends, I am sure, of yesterday, today and 


tomorrow — the Left Communists, however much they aim 
the shafts of their wit at this, and whatever proofs they give 
of their petty-bourgeois vacillations, they cannot refute 
these facts. Events have confirmed us, we have gained a 
respite solely because the imperialist slaughter in the West 
continues, and in the Far East imperialist rivalry flares 
up ever more extensively — only this explains the existence 
of the Soviet Republic, for the time being hanging by the 
weakest of threads, to which we are holding tight in this 
political situation. Of course, no piece of paper, no peace 
treaty, will protect us, nor the circumstance that we do 
not want to fight against Japan; it is true that she is plunder- 
ing us, without being deterred by any treaties or formalities. 
We shall be protected, of course, not by a paper treaty or 
"state of peace", but by the continuing struggle between 
the two "giants" of imperialism in the West, and by our 
endurance. We have not forgotten the basic Marxist lesson 
which has been so clearly confirmed by the Russian 
revolution: that it is necessary to reckon forces in tens of 
millions; anything less is not taken into account in poli- 
tics; politics discard anything less as a magnitude of no 
importance. If we look at the international revolution 
from this aspect, the matter is as clear as it could possibly 
be: a backward country can easily begin because its adver- 
sary has become rotten, because its bourgeoisie is not 
organised, but for it to continue demands of that country a 
hundred thousand times more circumspection, caution and 
endurance. It will be different in Western Europe; there it 
will be immeasurably more difficult to begin but immeas- 
urably easier to go on. It could not be otherwise, because 
the degree of organisation and solidarity of the proletariat 
there is incomparably greater. So long as we are alone, we 
must say to ourselves, taking all the forces into account: 
we have just one chance until the outbreak of the European 
revolution, which will solve all our difficulties — the con- 
tinuation of the struggle of the international imperialist 
giants; we have estimated this chance correctly, we have 
held on to it for several weeks, but it may be shattered 
tomorrow. Hence the conclusion is: to continue in our for- 
eign policy what we began in March, which can be formu- 
lated in the words: to manoeuvre, to retreat, to wait. When 



the words "an active foreign policy" turn up in this Left- 
wing Kommunist, when the expression defence of the social- 
ist fatherland is put in quotation marks, which are bound 
to be ironical, then I say to myself: these people have under- 
stood absolutely nothing of the position of the Western 
proletariat. While they call themselves Left Communists, 
they are going over to the standpoint of the wavering petty 
bourgeoisie, which regards the revolution as a means for 
ensuring its own specific system. International relations 
indicate as plainly as could be: any Russian who contem- 
plated the task of overthrowing international imperialism 
on the basis of Russian forces would be a lunatic. While 
over there in the West the revolution is maturing, although 
it is now maturing more rapidly than yesterday, our task 
is only this: we, being the contingent that has come 
to the forefront despite our weakness, must do everything, 
take advantage of every chance, so as to hold out in the 
positions we have won. All other considerations must be 
subordinated to this, to taking full advantage of our chance, 
so that we can put off for a few weeks the moment when 
international imperialism will unite against us. If we act 
in that way we shall advance along a road that will be 
approved by every class-conscious worker in the European 
countries, for he knows what we have learnt since 1905, 
whereas France and Britain have been learning it for cen- 
turies — he knows how slowly revolution grows in the free 
society of the united bourgeoisie, he knows that against 
such forces it will be necessary to set in operation an agi- 
tational bureau which will conduct propaganda in the true 
sense of the word when we stand side by side with the Ger- 
man, French and British proletariat which have risen in 
revolt. Until then, however distressing it may be, however 
repugnant to revolutionary traditions, the only tactics are: 
to wait, manoeuvre and retreat. 

When people say that we have no foreign, international 
policy, I say: every other policy consciously or unconscious- 
ly slips into playing a provocatory role and makes Russia 
a tool of alliance with imperialists of the type of Chkhen- 
keli or Semyonov. 

And we say: it is better to endure and be patient, to 
suffer infinitely greater national and state humiliations 


and hardships, but to remain at our post as a socialist con- 
tingent that has been cut off by the force of events from 
the ranks of the socialist army and compelled to wait until 
the socialist revolution in other countries comes to its aid. 
And it is coming to our aid. It comes slowly but it is coming. 
The war that is now going on in the West is revolutionising 
the masses more than before and is bringing near the hour 
of an uprising. 

The propaganda conducted up to now has said that the 
imperialist war is a most criminal and most reactionary war 
for the sake of annexations. But it is now being confirmed 
that on the Western front, where there are hundreds of 
thousands and millions of French and German soldiers 
engaged in slaughter, the revolution cannot fail to mature 
more rapidly than hitherto, although this revolution is 
coming more slowly than we expected. 

I have dwelt on the question of foreign policy more 
than I intended, but it seems to me that we see here very 
clearly that in this question we are, strictly speaking, 
faced with two main lines — the proletarian line, which says 
that the socialist revolution is what is dearest and highest 
for us, and that we must take account of whether it will 
soon break out in the West, and the other line — the bourgeois 
line — which says that for it the character of the state as 
a Great Power and national independence are dearer and 
higher than anything else. 

In regard to domestic issues, we see the same thing on 
the part of the group of Left Communists, who repeat the 
main arguments levelled against us from the bourgeois camp. 
For example, the main argument of the group of Left Com- 
munists against us is that there can be observed a Right- 
Bolshevik deviation, which threatens the revolution by 
directing it along the path of state capitalism. 

Evolution in the direction of state capitalism, there 
you have the evil, the enemy, which we are invited to combat. 

When I read these references to such enemies in the news- 
paper of the Left Communists, I ask: what has happened 
to these people that fragments of book-learning can make 
them forget reality? Reality tells us that state capitalism 
would be a step forward. If in a small space of time we could 
achieve state capitalism in Russia, that would be a victory. 



How is it that they cannot see that it is the petty proprietor, 
small capital, that is our enemy? How can they regard 
state capitalism as the chief enemy? They ought not to for- 
get that in the transition from capitalism to socialism our 
chief enemy is the petty bourgeoisie, its habits and customs, 
its economic position. The petty proprietor fears state 
capitalism above all, because he has only one desire — to 
grab, to get as much as possible for himself, to ruin and 
smash the big landowners, the big exploiters. In this the 
petty proprietor eagerly supports us. 

Here he is more revolutionary than the workers, because 
he is more embittered and more indignant, and therefore 
he readily marches forward to smash the bourgeoisie — but 
not as a socialist does in order, after breaking the resistance 
of the bourgeoisie, to begin building a socialist economy 
based on the principles of firm labour discipline, within 
the framework of a strict organisation, and observing cor- 
rect methods of control and accounting — but in order, by 
grabbing as much as possible for himself, to exploit the 
fruits of victory for himself and for his own ends, without 
the least concern for general state interests and the interests 
of the class of working people as a whole. 

What is state capitalism under Soviet power? To achieve 
state capitalism at the present time means putting into 
effect the accounting and control that the capitalist classes 
carried out. We see a sample of state capitalism in Germany. 
We know that Germany has proved superior to us. But 
if you reflect even slightly on what it would mean if the 
foundations of such state capitalism were established 
in Russia, Soviet Russia, everyone who is not out of his 
senses and has not stuffed his head with fragments of book- 
learning, would have to say that state capitalism would 
be our salvation. 

I said that state capitalism would be our salvation; if 
we had it in Russia, the transition to full socialism would 
he easy, would be within our grasp, because state capital- 
ism is something centralised, calculated, controlled and 
socialised, and that is exactly what we lack: we are threat- 
ened by the element of petty-bourgeois slovenliness, which 
more than anything else has been developed by the whole 
history of Russia and her economy, and which prevents us 


from taking the very step on which the success of socialism 
depends. Allow me to remind you that I had occasion to 
write my statement about state capitalism some time 
before the revolution and it is a howling absurdity to try to 
frighten us with state capitalism. I remind you that in my 

pamphlet The Impending Catastrophe* I then wrote 

{He reads the passage.) 

I wrote this about the revolutionary-democratic state, 
the state of Kerensky, Chernov, Tsereteli, Kishkin and their 
confreres, about a state which had a bourgeois basis and 
which did not and could not depart from it. I wrote at that 
time that state capitalism is a step towards socialism; 
I wrote that in September 1917, and now, in April 1918, 
after the proletariat's taking power in October, when it has 
proved its capacity: many factories have been confiscated, 
enterprises and banks nationalised, the armed resistance 
of the bourgeoisie and saboteurs smashed — now, when 
they try to frighten us with capitalism, it is so ludicrous, 
such a sheer absurdity and fabrication, that it becomes 
surprising and one asks oneself: how could people have this 
idea? They have forgotten the mere trifle that in Russia we 
have a petty-bourgeois mass which sympathises with the 
abolition of the big bourgeoisie in all countries, but does 
not sympathise with accounting, socialisation and control — 
herein lies the danger for the revolution, here you have the 
unity of social forces which ruined the great French 
revolution and could not fail to do so, and which, if the 
Russian proletariat proves weak, can alone ruin the Rus- 
sian revolution. The petty bourgeoisie, as we see, steeps 
the whole social atmosphere with petty-proprietor tenden- 
cies, with aspirations which are bluntly expressed in the 
statement: I took from the rich, what others do is not my 

Here is our main danger. If the petty bourgeois were 
subordinated to other class elements, subordinated to state 
capitalism, the class-conscious worker would be bound to 
greet that with open arms, for state capitalism under Keren- 
sky's democracy would have been a step towards socialism, 
and under the Soviet government it would be three-quarters 

See present edition, Vol. 25, pp. 323-69.— Ed. 



of socialism, because anyone who is the organiser of state- 
capitalist enterprises can be made one's helper. The Left 
Communists, however, adopt a different attitude, one of 
disdain, and when we had our first meeting with the Left 
Communists on April 4, which incidentally proved that this 
question from remote history, which had been long dis- 
cussed, was already a thing of the past, I said that it was 
necessary, if we properly understood our tasks, to learn 
socialism from the organisers of the trusts. 

These words made the Left Communists horribly indig- 
nant, and one of them — Comrade Osinsky — devoted his 
whole article to inveighing against them. That is substan- 
tially what his arguments amounted to. — The fact is, we 
do not want to teach them, but to learn from them. — We, 
"Right-wing" Bolsheviks, we want to learn from the organ- 
isers of the trusts, but these "Left Communists" want to 
teach them. But what do you want to teach them? Social- 
ism, perhaps? Teach socialism to merchants, to business- 
men? (Applause.) No, take on the job yourselves, if you 
like. We are not going to help you, it is labour in vain. It 
is no use our teaching these engineers, businessmen and mer- 
chants. It is no use teaching them socialism. If we had a 
bourgeois revolution, then there would be nothing to learn 
from them — except perhaps that you should grab what you 
can and have done with it, there is nothing more to learn. 
But that is not a socialist revolution — that is something 
that happened in France in 1793, that occurs where there is 
no socialism but only an approach to socialism. 

The landowners have to be overthrown, the bourgeoisie 
has to be overthrown, and all the actions of the Bolsheviks, 
all their struggle, their violence against the landowners 
and capitalists, expropriation and forcible suppression of 
the resistance of the landowners and capitalists, will be 
justified and proved a million times correct by history. 
Taken as a whole, this was a very great historical task, but 
it was only the first step. What matters now is the purpose 
for which we crushed them. Was it in order to say that now, 
having finally crushed them, we shall bow down before their 
capitalism? No, we shall now learn from them because we 
lack knowledge, because we do not have this knowledge. We 
know about socialism, but knowledge of organisation on a 


scale of millions, knowledge of the organisation and dis- 
tribution of goods, etc. — this we do not have. The old Bol- 
shevik leaders did not teach us this. The Bolshevik Party 
cannot boast of this in its history. We have not done a 
course on this yet. And we say, let him be a thorough- 
paced rascal even, but if he has organised a trust, if he 
is a merchant who has dealt with the organisation of pro- 
duction and distribution for millions and tens of millions, 
if he has acquired experience — we must learn from him. If 
we do not learn this from them, we shall not get socialism, 
the revolution will remain at the stage it has now reached. 
Only the development of state capitalism, only the 
painstaking establishment of accounting and control, only 
the strictest organisation and labour discipline, will lead 
us to socialism. Without this there is no socialism. 

It is no use our undertaking the ridiculous task of teach- 
ing the organisers of trusts — there is nothing to teach them. 
We have to expropriate them. That is not where the hitch 
lies. There is no difficulty whatsoever in that. (Applause.) 
That we have sufficiently demonstrated and proved. 

I told every workers' delegation with which I had to deal 
when they came to me and complained that their factory 
was at a standstill: you would like your factory to be con- 
fiscated. Very well, we have blank forms for a decree ready, 
they can be signed in a minute. (Applause.) But tell us: 
have you learnt how to take over production and have 
you calculated what you will produce? Do you know the 
connection between what you are producing and the Russian 
and international market? Whereupon it turns out that they 
have not learnt this yet; there has not been anything about 
it yet in Bolshevik pamphlets, and nothing is said about 
it in Menshevik pamphlets either. 

The situation is best among those workers who are carry- 
ing out this state capitalism: among the tanners and in 
the textile and sugar industries, because they have a sober, 
proletarian knowledge of their industry and they want 
to preserve it and make it more powerful — because in that 
lies the greatest socialism. 120 They say: I can't cope with 
this task just yet; I shall put in capitalists, giving them 
one-third of the posts, and I shall learn from them. And 



when I read the ironical statement of the Left Communists: 
it is yet to be seen who is taking advantage of whom, 
I find their short-sightedness strange. Of course, if, after 
taking power in October and after a victorious campaign 
against the whole bourgeoisie from October to April, we 
could still be doubtful as to who is taking advantage of 
whom — whether the workers of the trust organisers, or the 
businessmen and rascals of the workers — if that were the 
case, we should have to pack up our belongings and go home, 
leaving the field to the Milyukovs and Martovs. But that 
is not the case. The class-conscious worker will not believe 
it, and the fright of the petty bourgeoisie is laughable; 
they know that socialism begins where larger-scale industry 
begins, that the merchants and businessmen have learnt 
this by their own experience. 

We have said: only these material conditions, the mate- 
rial conditions of large-scale machine industry serving 
tens of millions of people, only these are the basis of 
socialism, and to learn to deal with this in a petty-bourgeois, 
peasant country is difficult, but possible. Revolution comes 
at the price of civil war, but that is something that is the 
more serious the more the country is civilised and devel- 
oped. In Germany, state capitalism prevails, and therefore 
the revolution in Germany will be a hundred times more 
devastating and ruinous than in a petty-bourgeois country — 
there, too, there will be gigantic difficulties and tremendous 
chaos and imbalance. Therefore I do not see the slightest 
shadow of a reason for despair or despondency in the fact 
that the Russian revolution accomplished the easier task 
to start with — that of overthrowing the landowners and 
bourgeoisie — and is faced now by the more difficult social- 
ist task of organising nation-wide accounting and control. - 
It is facing the task with which real socialism begins, a 
task which has the backing of the majority of the workers 
and class-conscious working people. Yes, the majority 
of the workers, who are better organised and have gone 
through the school of the trade unions, are wholeheartedly 
with us. 

This majority raised the questions of piece-work and 
Taylorism — questions which the gentlemen from Vperyod 
are scoffingly trying to reject — in the trade union councils 


before we did, even before the coming of Soviet power with 
its Soviets; they got busy and set about working out stand- 
ards of labour discipline. These people showed that for 
all their proletarian modesty they were well acquainted 
with the conditions of factory labour, they grasped the 
essence of socialism better than those who spouted revolu- 
tionary phrases but in reality consciously or unconsciously 
descended to the level of the petty bourgeoisie, whose 
standpoint was: throw out the rich but it's not worth while 
putting oneself under the accounting and control of an 
organisation; that's not needed for small proprietors, they 
don't want that — but in that alone lies the guarantee of 
the stability and triumph of our revolution. 

Comrades, I shall not touch on further details and quo- 
tations from the newspaper Levi Kommunist, 121 but I shall 
say briefly: it is time to cry out when people have gone so 
far as to say that the introduction of labour discipline 
will be a step back. And I must say that I regard this as 
such an unheard-of reactionary thing, such a threat to the 
revolution, that if I did not know that it was said by a 
group without any influence, and that it would be refuted 
at any class-conscious meeting of workers, I would say: 
the Russian revolution is lost. 

The Left Communists write: "The introduction of labour 
discipline, coupled with restoring the leadership of capi- 
talists in industry, cannot substantially raise labour pro- 
ductivity but it will lower the class initiative, activity 
and organised character of the proletariat. It threatens 
serfdom for the working class...." This is untrue; if it were 
the case, our Russian revolution as regards its socialist 
tasks and its socialist essence would be on the point of 
collapse. But this is not true. The declassed petty-bourgeois 
intelligentsia does not understand that the chief difficulty 
for socialism lies in ensuring labour discipline. Socialists 
wrote about this long ago, they thought most of all about 
this in the distant past, they devoted the greatest concern 
to it and its analysis, they understood that the real diffi- 
culties for the socialist revolution begin here. More than 
once up to now there have been revolutions which ruth- 
lessly overthrew the bourgeoisie, no less vigorously than we 
did, but when we went so far as to establish Soviet power 



we thereby showed that we were making the practical tran- 
sition from the abolition of economic serfdom to the self- 
discipline of labour, that our rule is one which must really 
be the rule of labour. When people say to us that the dic- 
tatorship of the proletariat is recognised in words but that 
in reality it is mere phrases that are written, this actually 
shows that they have no notion of the dictatorship of the 
proletariat, for it by no means merely consists in over- 
throwing the bourgeoisie or the landowners — that happened 
in all revolutions — our dictatorship of the proletariat is 
the establishment of order, discipline, labour productivity, 
accounting and control by the proletarian Soviet power, 
which is more stable and firmly based than the previous 
one. That is what you won't solve, that is what we have 
not yet taught, that is what is needed by the workers, that 
is why it is good to show them a mirror in which all these 
shortcomings are plainly visible. I consider that this is a 
useful task for it will cause all thinking, class-conscious 
workers and peasants to devote their main efforts to it. 
Yes, by overthrowing the landowners and bourgeoisie we 
cleared the way but we did not build the edifice of socialism. 
On the ground cleared of one bourgeois generation, new 
generations continually appear in history, as long as the 
ground gives rise to them, and it does give rise to any num- 
ber of bourgeois. As for those who look at the victory over 
the capitalists in the way that the petty proprietors look 
at it — "they grabbed, let me have a go too" — indeed, every- 
one of them is the source of a new generation of bourgeois. 
When they tell us that the introduction of labour disci- 
pline coupled with restoring capitalists as leaders is a threat 
to the revolution, I say: it is just the socialist character of 
our revolution that these people have failed to understand, 
they repeat the very thing that easily unites them with 
the petty bourgeois, who fear discipline, organisation, 
accounting and control as the devil fears holy water. 

They may say: you are actually proposing here to give 
us capitalists as leaders among the working-class leaders. 
Yes, they are being brought in because in the matter of 
practical organisation they have knowledge that we do not 
possess. The class-conscious worker will never be afraid of 
such a leader, because he knows that Soviet power is his 


power, that it will stand firm in his defence, because he 
knows that he wants to learn the practice of organisation. 

We organised thousands under the tsar and hundreds of 
thousands under Kerensky. That is nothing, it does not 
count in politics. It was preparatory work, it was a prepar- 
atory course. Until the leading workers have learnt to 
organise tens of millions, they will not be socialists or 
creators of a socialist society, they will not acquire the 
necessary knowledge of organisation. The road of organi- 
sation is a long road and the tasks of socialist construction 
demand stubborn, long-continued work and appropriate 
knowledge, of which we do not have enough. Even the more 
developed generation of the immediate future will hardly 
achieve the complete transition to socialism. 

Recall what former socialists wrote about the future 
socialist revolution; it is doubtful whether it would be 
possible to pass to socialism without learning from the 
organisers of trusts, for they have been concerned with this 
type of production on a large scale. We do not need to teach 
them socialism, we need to expropriate them and to break 
their sabotage. These two tasks we have carried out. We 
have to make them submit to workers' control. And if our 
critics among the Left Communists have levelled against 
us the reproach that we are not leading to communism by 
our tactics but are going back, their reproaches are ridiculous: 
they forget that we have lagged behind with accounting 
and control because it has been very difficult to smash this 
resistance and bring the bourgeoisie and its technicians and 
bourgeois specialists into our service. But we need their 
knowledge, their experience and labour, without which 
it is impossible, in fact, to gain possession of the culture that 
was created by the old social relations and has remained 
as the material basis of socialism. If the Left Communists 
have not noticed this, it is because they do not see life as 
it really is but concoct their slogans by counterposing state 
capitalism to ideal socialism. We, however, must tell 
the workers: yes, it is a step back, but we have to help 
ourselves to find a remedy. There is only one remedy: 
organise to the last man, organise accounting over pro- 
duction, organise accounting and control over consumption 
and act so that we do not have to turn out hundreds of mil- 



lions in currency from the printing press, 122 and so that not 
a single hundred-ruble note is lost to the state treasury by 
falling into the wrong hands. This cannot be done by any 
outburst of revolutionary fervour, by any knock-out blow 
to the bourgeoisie. It can be done only by self-discipline, 
only by organising the labour of the workers and peasants, 
only by accounting and control. This we do not have yet and 
for it we have paid tribute by paying the capitalist organisers 
a higher remuneration than they paid you. This we have 
not learnt, but must learn, it is the road to socialism, the 
sole road — that of teaching the workers the practical 
business of managing gigantic enterprises, of organising big 
industry and large-scale distribution. 

Comrades, I am very well aware how easy it is to talk 
of accounting, control, discipline and self-discipline when 
the speaker is someone occupying a definite social position. 
What a lot of material for witticisms this provides, and for 
saying: when your Party was not in power it promised the 
workers rivers flowing with milk and honey, mountains of 
sugar candy, but when these people are in power there is the 
usual transformation, they begin to talk of accounting, dis- 
cipline, self-discipline, control, etc. I am very well aware 
what promising material this is for publicists of the type 
of Milyukov and Martov. 

I am very well aware what rich material this is for per- 
sons whose concern is hack writing or showmanship, and who 
are inclined to use the flimsiest arguments, which receive 
scant sympathy from class-conscious workers. 

In the newspaper Levi Kommunist I came across a review 
of my book 123 by such an eminent publicist as Bukharin; 
it was moreover a sympathetic review, but anything of 
value in it lost all its value for me when I had read through 
this review to the end. I perceived that Bukharin had not 
seen what should have been seen, and this happened because 
he wrote his review in April but quoted what had already 
become out of date for April, what belonged to a previous 
day, viz., that it was necessary to smash the old state. 
This we have already done, it is a task which belongs to a 
previous day, and we have to go forward and look not at the 
past but at the future and create a state based on the com- 
mune; he wrote about what is already embodied in Soviet 


organisations, but said nothing about accounting, control 
and discipline. What a frame of mind these people have, 
and how their psychology coincides with the sentiments 
of the petty bourgeoisie: let us overthrow the rich, but 
there is no need for control. That is how they look at it; it 
holds them captive and it divides the class-conscious pro- 
letarian from the petty bourgeoisie and even from the extreme 
revolutionaries. This is when the proletarian says: let us 
organise and brace up, or some petty kulak, and there are 
millions of them, will overthrow us. 

Here is the division between the class-conscious prole- 
tarian and the petty bourgeois; here the revolution takes 
leave of the petty bourgeoisie. And how blind are those 
people who do not say anything about this. 

I shall venture to remind you of some more of my quota- 
tions; I said that people will be able to do without coercion 
when they are accustomed to act without it; such a custom 
of course, may be the result of long training. 

When the Left Communists hear this, they clutch their 
heads and say: how is it that we didn't notice this? Bukharin, 
why didn't you criticise it? We showed our strength in 
suppressing the landowners and the bourgeoisie, and now we 
have to show our strength as regards self-discipline and 
organisation, because this is known from thousands of years 
of past experience and the people must be told that only in 
this lies the strength of our Soviet power, of the workers' 
dictatorship, of our proletarian authority. The petty 
bourgeois, however, hide from this truth behind the shield 
of revolutionary phraseology. 

We have to show our strength. Yes, the small employers, 
petty proprietors, are ready to help us proletarians to over- 
throw the landowners and capitalists. But after this our 
paths diverge. They have no love for organisation, disci- 
pline, they are hostile to it. And here we have to wage the 
most determined, ruthless struggle against these proprie- 
tors and small employers. Because it is here, in the sphere 
of organisation, that socialist construction begins for us. 
And when I express my dissent to those people who claim 
to be socialists and who promise the workers they shall 
enjoy as much as they like and whatever they like, I say 
that communism presupposes a productivity of labour that 



we do not have at present. Our productivity is too low, 
that is a fact. Capitalism leaves us as a heritage, especially 
in a backward country, a host of customs through which 
all state property, all public property, is regarded as some- 
thing that may be maliciously spoilt. This psychology 
of the petty-bourgeois mass is felt at every step, and the 
struggle in this sphere is a very difficult one. Only the 
organised proletariat can endure everything. I wrote: 
"Until the higher phase of communism arrives, the socialists 
demand the strictest control by society and by the state."* 
I wrote this before the October Revolution and I stand 
by it now. 

Now, having suppressed the bourgeoisie and broken 
their sabotage, the time has come when we have an oppor- 
tunity of dealing with this matter. While this was not the 
case, the heroes of the day and the heroes of the revolution 
were the Red Guards who performed their great historic 
deeds. They took up arms without the consent of the 
propertied classes. They performed this great historic work. 
They took up arms in order to overthrow the exploiters 
and make their arms an instrument for defence of the work- 
ers, and in order to look after the standards of production 
and labour and the standard of consumption. 

We have not produced this, but it contains the kernel 
and the basis of socialism. If there are any to whom such 
work seems boring and uninteresting, they are representa- 
tives of petty-bourgeois laziness. 

If our revolution halted here, it would go down in his- 
tory no less than the revolution of 1793. But people will 
say: that was in the eighteenth century. For the eighteenth 
century that sufficed, but for the twentieth it is not enough. 
Accounting and control — that is mainly what is needed 
for the proper functioning of communist society. So I wrote 
before the October Revolution.** I repeat, it was impossible 
to tackle this matter until the Alexeyevs, Kornilovs and 
Kerenskys were crushed. Now the armed resistance of the 
bourgeoisie has been crushed. Our task is to put all the sabo- 

See present edition, Vol. 25, p. 474. — Ed. 
Ibid., p. 478. —Ed. 


teurs to work under our control, under the control of the 
Soviet power, to set up managerial bodies so that accounting 
and control will be strictly carried out. The country is 
being ruined because after the war it has been through it 
lacks the elementary conditions for normal existence. Our 
enemies who are attacking us seem terrible only because 
we have not instituted accounting and control. When I 
hear hundreds of thousands of complaints about famine, 
when you see and know that these complaints are justified, 
that we have grain and cannot transport it, when we 
encounter the scoffing of the Left Communists and their 
objections to such measures as our railway decree — they 
have mentioned it twice — these are trifles. 

At the meeting with the Left Communists on April 4, 
I said: give us your draft of the decree; after all, you are 
citizens of the Soviet Republic, members of Soviet insti- 
tutions, you are not critics standing apart from us, outside 
the gate, like the bourgeois traders and saboteurs who 
criticise in order to vent their spleen. You, I repeat, are 
leaders of Soviet organisations; try to give us your draft 
decree. They cannot give it and will never be able to, 
because our railway decree is correct, because by introducing 
dictatorship our decree has the sympathy of the masses and 
class-conscious working people of the railways, but is 
opposed by those managers who plunder and accept bribes; 
because a vacillating attitude to it is shown by all those 
who waver between the Soviet government and its enemies — 
whereas the proletariat, which learnt discipline from large- 
scale production, knows that there cannot be socialism 
until production is organised on a large scale and until 
there is even stricter discipline. 

This proletariat supports us in the railway movement; 
it will combat the anarchy of the petty proprietors and will 
show that the Russian revolution, which is capable of win- 
ning brilliant victories, is capable also of overcoming its 
own lack of organisation. And among the May Day slogans, 
from the standpoint of immediate tasks, it will appreciate 
the slogan of the Central Committee which reads: "We 
conquered capital, we shall conquer also our own lack of 
organisation". Only then shall we reach the full victory of 
socialism! (Loud applause.) 





First of all I must reply to Comrade Bukharin's speech. 
In my first speech I remarked that we were nine-tenths in 
agreement with him, and so I think it is a pity that we 
should disagree as regards the other tenth. He is one-tenth 
in the position of having to spend half his speech disasso- 
ciating and exorcising himself from absolutely everyone 
who spoke in support of him. And no matter how excellent 
his intentions and those of his group, the falsity of their 
position is proved by the fact that he always has to spend 
time making excuses and disassociating himself on the 
issue of state capitalism. 

Comrade Bukharin is completely wrong; and I shall 
make this known in the press because this question is 
extremely important. I have a couple of words to say about 
the Left Communists' reproaching us on the grounds that a 
deviation in the direction of state capitalism is to be 
observed in our policy; now Comrade Bukharin wrongly states 
that under Soviet power state capitalism is impossible. 
So he is contradicting himself when he says that there can 
be no state capitalism under Soviet power — that is an 
obvious absurdity. The large number of enterprises and 
factories under the control of the Soviet government and 
owned by the state, this alone shows the transition from 
capitalism to socialism, but Comrade Bukharin ignores 
this. Instead, he recalls that we were against him in the 
Left Zimmerwald, 124 but that was ages ago and to recall 
that now, after Soviet power has been in existence for six 
months, after we have performed all the experiments we 


could when we had expropriated, confiscated and national- 
ised — after all that to recall what we wrote in 1915 is 

absurd Now we cannot help bringing up the problem of 

state capitalism and socialism, of how to act in the transi- 
tional period, in which you have bits of capitalism and 
socialism existing side by side under Soviet power. Com- 
rade Bukharin refuses to understand this problem; but I 
think we cannot throw it out all at once, and Comrade Bu- 
kharin does not propose throwing it out and does not deny 
that this state capitalism is something higher than what 
is left of the small proprietor's mentality, economic con- 
ditions and way of life, which are still extremely prevalent. 
Comrade Bukharin has not refuted that fact, for it cannot 
be refuted without forgetting the word Marxist. 

Ghe's position that the proletariat in Europe is unclean, 
that in Germany the proletariat is corrupted, 125 is so 
crudely nationalistic, so obtuse that I don't know what he 
will say next. The proletariat in Europe is not one bit 
more unclean than in Russia, but to start a revolution there 
is more difficult because the people in power are not idiots 
like Romanov or boasters like Kerensky but serious leaders 
of capitalism, which was not the case in Russia. 

Finally I come to the chief objections that have been 
showered upon my article and my speech from all sides. 
Particularly heavy fire was directed at the slogan: "steal 
back the stolen", a slogan in which, no matter how I look 
at it, I can find nothing wrong, when history comes on the 
scene. If we use the words "expropriate the expropriators", 
why can't we do without Latin words? (Applause.) 

I think history will fully justify us, and the masses 
of the working people are coming over to our side even 
before history; but if the slogan "steal back the stolen" has 
shown itself unrestrainedly in the activity of the Soviets, 
and if it turns out that in a practical and fundamental 
matter like famine and unemployment we are confronted 
by enormous difficulties, it is appropriate to say that after 
the words "steal back what was stolen" the proletarian 
revolution makes a distinction, which runs: "Count up what 
was stolen and don't let it be filched piecemeal, and if 
people start filching for themselves directly or indirectly, 
these infringers of discipline must be shot...." 



And when they start yelling and shouting that this is 
dictatorship, when they start yelling about Napoleon III 
and Julius Caesar, when they say this is the working class's 
inability to act seriously, when they accuse Trotsky, it 
means there is the same muddle-headedness, the same 
political mood induced by petty-bourgeois anarchy, which 
has been protesting not against the "steal back the stolen" 
slogan, but against the slogan of strict accounting and 
correct distribution. There will be no famine in Russia 
if we calculate how much grain there is, check up on all 
stocks, and if any breaking of the regulations is followed 
by the most severe punishment. That is where the 
difference lies. And it arises from the situation that 
obtains when the socialist revolution is seriously 
supported only by the proletariat while the petty bour- 
geoisie approaches it with hesitation, a fact we have 
always been aware of and always taken into account; and in 
this wavering they are against us. This will not make us 
hesitate and we shall continue to follow our path in the 
certainty that half the proletariat will follow us because 
it knows perfectly well how the factory owners robbed and 
stole merely so that the poor should have nothing. 

It is just a lot of verbal trickery, all this talk about a 
dictatorship, Napoleon III, Julius Caesar and so forth. 
People can be fooled with that kind of talk here, but in 
the provinces, at every factory, in every village they know 
perfectly well that we are lagging behind in this respect; 
no one will question this slogan, everyone knows what it 
means. And there can be no doubt either that we shall direct 
all our efforts towards organising accounting, control 
and correct distribution. 

Bukharin told us: "I disassociate myself from those 
who embrace me." But there are so many of them that Bu- 
kharin cannot extricate himself. They don't tell us what 
their proposals are because they have nothing to propose. 
Do you know what to propose? I have reproached you in 
the press and in my speeches. Over the matter of the railway 
decree we had the pleasure of recalling April 4. There is a 
reference to this in your magazine, and I have said that 
if you are not quite satisfied with the decree, give us a new 
decree. But there has not been a word about this in the 


first issue, nor in the second issue, the proofs of which have 
kindly been given to me to look at; and there was not a 
word about it in Comrade Bukharin's speech either — a 
complete coincidence. Both Comrade Bukharin and Comrade 
Martov have got on their hobby horse — the railway decree — 
and are riding it to death. They talk about the dictatorship 
of Napoleon III, Julius Caesar and so on, providing 
material for a hundred issues that no one will read. But this 
is a little nearer the point. This is about the workers and 
the railways. Without railways not only will there be no 
socialism but everyone will starve to death like dogs while 
there is grain to be had close by. Everyone knows this per- 
fectly well. Why don't you answer? You are closing your 
eyes. You are throwing dust in the eyes of the workers — 
the adherents of Novaya Zhizn and the Mensheviks deliberate- 
ly, Comrade Bukharin by mistake. You are concealing 
the main issue from the workers when you talk of construc- 
tion. What can be constructed without railways? And when 
I see some merchant or other, who tells me during a meeting 
of some kind, or when I am receiving a delegation, that there 
has been some improvement on such and such a railway, 
that praise is worth a million times more to me than 20 
resolutions by Communists or anyone else, or any speeches. 

When the practical people — engineers, merchants and 
so on — say that if this government copes at least to some 
extent with the railways, they will admit that it is a gov- 
ernment, their opinion matters more than anything else. 
Because the railways are the key, they are one of the most 
striking manifestations of the connection between town and 
country, between industry and agriculture, on which 
socialism is entirely based. To make this connection good for 
the sake of planned activity in the interests of the whole 
population, we need railways. 

All these phrases about dictatorship and so on, over 
which the Martovs and Karelins have found common ground 
and which have been masticated twice over by the Consti- 
tutional-Democratic press — they amount to nothing. 

I have given you the example of the workers' organisa- 
tions that are doing it, and the state capitalism of other 
enterprises, other branches of industry; the tobacco workers 
and tanners have more state capitalism than others, and 



their affairs are in better order, and their road to socialism 
is more certain. There is no concealing this fact, and another 
thing you can't do is to come out with absurd phrases as 
Ghe does, when he says that with a rifle he can force anyone. 
That is a complete absurdity and a complete failure to 
understand what a rifle is for. After that one might think 
that a rifle is a bad thing, unless it is anarchist Ghe's head 
that is the bad thing. (Applause.) A rifle was a very good 
thing when the capitalist who was waging war against us 
had to be shot, when thieves had to be caught at their 
thievery and shot. But when Comrade Bukharin said there 
were people who were receiving salaries of 4,000 and they 
ought to be put up against a wall and shot, he was wrong. 
We have got to find such people. We have not very many 
posts where people get 4,000. We pick them up here and 
there. The whole point is that we have no experts, that is 
why we have got to enlist 1,000 people, first-class experts 
in their fields, who value their work, who like large-scale 
industry because they know that it means improvements 
in technology. When people here say that socialism can 
be won without learning from the bourgeoisie, I know this 
is the psychology of an inhabitant of Central Africa. The 
only socialism we can imagine is one based on all the les- 
sons learned through large-scale capitalist culture. Social- 
ism without postal and telegraph services, without 
machines is the emptiest of phrases. But it is impossible to 
sweep aside the bourgeois atmosphere and bourgeois habits 
all at once; it needs the kind of organisation on which all 
modern science and technology are based. To say a rifle 
will do the job is the greatest stupidity. Everything depends 
on nation-wide organisation — the whole population's pay- 
ing income tax, the introduction of labour service, everyone's 
being registered; while a person is not registered, we have to 
pay him. When Bukharin said he could not see the principle, 
he was missing the point. Marx envisaged buying up the 
bourgeoisie as a class. He was writing about Britain, before 
Britain had imperialism, when a peaceful transition to 
socialism was possible — it certainly is not a reference to the 
earlier type of socialism. 126 We are talking not about the 
bourgeoisie but about recruiting experts. I have given one ex- 
ample. One could cite thousands. It is simply a question of 


attracting people who can be attracted either by buying 
them with high salaries or by ideological organisation, 
because you can't deny the fact that it is they who are 
receiving all the high wages. We know from the example I 
gave — up to now you have been criticising only tacitly, yet 
the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries know perfectly well that 
the salaries paid are high. And the Left Communists and 
Novaya Zhizn adherents know it too. 

And they don't criticise this. That's their sincere crit- 
icism of the Soviet government! When they saw that their 
engineers were getting 1,500, they kept quiet. Far better 
to pay these engineers. And no mention of Julius Caesar 
or dictatorship. This is political education of the masses. 
But if I say we are going to pay from 1,500 to 2,000 a month, 
that's a step back. Then out come Julius Caesar and Napo- 
leon III and the Brest-Litovsk peace and everything; but 
not a word about your experts, about your engineers. And 
when they say, when Bukharin says, this is no violation 
of principle, I say that here we have a violation of the 
principle of the Paris Commune. State capitalism is not 
money but social relations. If we pay 2,000 in accordance 
with the railway decree, that is state capitalism. Comrade 
Bukharin referred to the Zimmerwald resolution of 1915 
and he can't free himself of that ill-digested theory. Free 
yourself, Comrade Bukharin. Now Comrade Bukharin has 
said that I am attacking the petty-bourgeois element. 

I was not attacking the working peasants when I spoke 
of the petty-bourgeois element. Let us leave the working peas- 
ants alone — that's not what I am talking about. But among 
the peasantry there are working peasants and petty-bour- 
geois peasants, who live like petty proprietors at the 
expense of others; the working peasants are exploited by 
others, but they want to live at their own expense. So Comrade 
Karelin in thinking that the working peasants are being at- 
tacked is wrong. The poor peasants who have nothing to gain 
from stealing what is stolen are on our side. They will accept 
our slogans. We know very well and have seen how people 
in the villages understand the slogan "steal back the sto- 
len". If people go there agitating about dictatorship and 
spouting phrases about the Brest peace and so forth, these 
people who are arguing against us will find themselves 



isolated and will receive no support. The proletariat, the 
mass of the peasants, who are ruined and have no hopes as 
regards individual farming, will be on our side because 
they know perfectly well that Russia cannot be kept 
going simply by stealing. We all know that quite well 
and everyone can see and feel it in his own, everyday 

In this we are keeping up with economic demands and 
the mood of the masses of the working people. So when the 
declassed intellectuals among the Left Communists hurl 
their thunderbolts at us, we must remain confident that no 
matter how much they curse us, this slogan of the socialist 
revolution is the only correct slogan, which the masses of 
the working people must understand and use if we are to 
consolidate and complete the socialist revolution. You 
won't wriggle out of that problem at any workers' meeting; 
you will be pursued with this decree, this problem. We do 
not claim to be infallible; many of our decrees are bad. Put 
them right; you have various magazines and groups of writ- 
ers. Tell us what is wrong with the railway decree. We 
suggested you should do so at the meeting of April 4, and 
today it is April 29th. Twenty-five days have passed and 
a whole group of splendid writers is silent because they have 
nothing to say. 

You know that our railway decree, in spite of all its 
mistakes, which we are quite ready to correct, got down to 
the core of what is needed. It pivots on that mass of work- 
ers who respond to the strictest discipline, who need to 
be organised by a single authority which the Soviets can 
appoint and which the Soviets can replace and from whom 
they demand unfailing execution of assignments so that 
large-scale industry will operate like a machine and thou- 
sands of people will be directed by a single will, obey the 
orders of a single Soviet manager. (Applause.) And to 
bring up Napoleon and Julius Caesar on these grounds is 
either to go mad or to become completely lost in the literature 
of the privileged classes whose sole purpose in life is to curse 
the Bolsheviks. The railway decree, comrades, is a step that 
shows we are on the right road. In my speech I informed you 
why we had taken that road; in the Council of People's 
Commissars we did not spend our time discussing Napoleon 


the Great and Julius Caesar but we did go over the question 
a hundred times of how to get the railways in order, and we 
know the response from the provinces, and we know from 
any number of talks with the railway organisations that the 
proletarians are for us, that they seek discipline and expect 
order. They see that people in Central Russia are starving 
while there is grain, but that owing to the transport muddle 
it is hard to deliver it. 

But if there are people who are wavering, lost, in a petty- 
bourgeois mood, who have been frightened by one-man 
management, who go into hysterics and refuse to support 
us, why is this? Is it because there is a Right wing, or 
because people have got hysterics, particularly the Left 
Socialist-Revolutionaries? In their case the confusion is 
complete, no one could sort it out. So to avoid a lot of use- 
less argument we say: get down to the main issue and deal 
with it in specific terms. 

When people here talk of conciliation with the bour- 
geoisie, as Karelin and Martov have done, that is nonsense. 
I will remind you from Kautsky's authoritative pamphlet 
how he conceived life the day after the social revolution. 
I will tell you approximately what he wrote; the trust 
organisers will not be left without work to do. That was 
written by a man who realised that to organise tens of mil- 
lions of people for the production and distribution of 
goods is some job! We have not learned this and there is 
nowhere to learn it, but the trust organisers know that 
without this there will be no socialism. And we need to 
know it too. So all these phrases about conciliation and 
agreement with the bourgeoisie are empty chatter. You 
cannot refute Kautsky's premise that large-scale industry 
must be learned through experience. 



1. The international position of the Soviet Republic 
is extremely difficult and critical, because the deepest 
and fundamental interests of international capital and 
imperialism induce it to strive not only for a military 
onslaught on Russia, but also for an agreement on the parti- 
tion of Russia and the strangulation of the Soviet power. 
Only the intensification of the imperialist slaughter 
of the peoples in Western Europe and the imperialist rival- 
ry between Japan and America in the Far East paralyse, 
or restrain, these aspirations, and then only partially, and 
only for a certain, probably short, time. 

Therefore, the tactics of the Soviet Republic must be, 
on the one hand, to exert every effort to ensure the coun- 
try's speediest economic recovery, to increase its defence 
capacity, to build up a powerful socialist army; on the 
other hand, in international policy, the tactics must be 
those of manoeuvring, retreat, waiting for the moment 
when the international proletarian revolution — which is 
now maturing more quickly than before in a number of 
advanced countries — fully matures. 

2. In the sphere of domestic policy, the task that comes 
to the forefront at the present time in conformity with the 
resolution adopted by the All-Russia Congress of Soviets 
on March 15, 1918, is the task of organisation. It is this 
task, in connection with the new and higher organisation 
of production and distribution on the basis of socialised 
large-scale machine (labour) production, that constitutes 
the chief content — and chief condition of complete victory 



— of the socialist revolution that was begun in Russia on 
October 25, 1917. 

3. From the purely political point of view, the essence 
of the present situation is that the task of convincing 
the working people of Russia that the programme of the 
socialist revolution is correct and the task of winning Rus- 
sia from the exploiters for the working people have, in 
main and fundamental outline, been carried out, and the 
chief problem that comes to the forefront now is — how to 
administer Russia. The organisation of proper administra- 
tion, the undeviating fulfilment of the decisions of the 
Soviet government — this is the urgent task of the Soviets, 
this is the condition for the complete victory of the 
Soviet type of state, which it is not enough to proclaim in 
formal decrees, which it is not enough to establish and 
introduce in all parts of the country, but which must also 
be practically organised and tested in the course of the 
regular, everyday work of administration. 

4. In the sphere of the economic building of socialism, 
the essence of the present situation is that our work of 
organising the country-wide and all-embracing accounting 
and control of production and distribution, and of intro- 
ducing proletarian control of production, lags far behind 
the direct expropriation of the expropriators — the land- 
owners and capitalists. This is the fundamental fact deter- 
mining our tasks. 

From this it follows, on the one hand, that the struggle 
against the bourgeoisie is entering a new phase, namely: 
the centre of gravity is shifting to the organisation of account- 
ing and control. Only in this way is it possible to consoli- 
date all the economic achievements directed against capi- 
tal, all the measures in nationalising individual branches 
of the national economy that we have carried out since 
October; and only in this way is it possible to prepare for 
the successful consummation of the struggle against the 
bourgeoisie, i.e., the complete consolidation of socialism. 

From this basic fact follows, on the other hand, the 
explanation as to why the Soviet government was obliged in 
certain cases to take a step backward, or to agree to compro- 
mise with bourgeois tendencies. Such a step backward and 
departure from the principles of the Paris Commune was, 



for example, the introduction of high salaries for a number 
of bourgeois experts. Such a compromise was the agreement 
with the bourgeois co-operatives concerning steps and meas- 
ures for gradually bringing the entire population into the 
co-operatives. Compromises of this kind will be necessary 
until the proletarian government has put country-wide con- 
trol and accounting firmly on its feet; and our task is, 
while not in the least concealing their unfavourable fea- 
tures from the people, to exert efforts to improve account- 
ing and control as the only means and method of completely 
eliminating all compromises of this kind. Compromises of 
this kind are needed at the present time as the sole 
(because we are late with accounting and control) guarantee of 
slower, but surer progress. When the accounting and con- 
trol of production and distribution is fully introduced the 
need for such compromises will disappear. 

5. Particular significance now attaches to measures 
for raising labour discipline and the productivity of 
labour. Every effort must be exerted for the steps 
already undertaken in this direction, especially by the trade 
unions, to be sustained, consolidated and increased. 
This includes, for example, the introduction of piece-work, 
the adoption of much that is scientific and progressive in 
the Taylor system, the payment of wages commensurate 
with the general results of the work of a factory, the 
exploitation of rail and water transport, etc. This also in- 
cludes the organisation of competition between individual 
producers' and consumers' communes, selection of organ- 
isers, etc. 

6. The proletarian dictatorship is absolutely indispen- 
sable during the transition from capitalism to socialism, 
and in our revolution this truth has been fully confirmed 
in practice. Dictatorship, however, presupposes a revolu- 
tionary government that is really firm and ruthless in 
crushing both exploiters and hooligans, and our govern- 
ment is too mild. Obedience, and unquestioning obedience 
at that, during work to the one-man decisions of Soviet 
directors, of the dictators elected or appointed by Soviet 
institutions, vested with dictatorial powers (as is demanded, 
for example, by the railway decree), is far, very far from 
being guaranteed as yet. This is the effect of the influence 



of petty-bourgeois anarchy, the anarchy of small-pro- 
prietor habits, aspirations and sentiments, which fundamen- 
tally contradict proletarian discipline and socialism. The 
proletariat must concentrate all its class-consciousness on 
the task of combating this petty-bourgeois anarchy, which 
is not only directly apparent (in the support given by the 
bourgeoisie and their hangers-on, the Mensheviks, Right 
Socialist-Revolutionaries, etc., to every kind of resistance 
to the proletarian government), but also indirectly appar- 
ent (in the historical vacillation displayed on the major 
questions of policy by both the petty-bourgeois Left 
Socialist-Revolutionaries and the trend in our Party called 
"Left Communist", which descends to the methods of petty- 
bourgeois revolutionariness and copies the Left Socialist- 

Iron discipline and the thorough exercise of proletarian 
dictatorship against petty-bourgeois vacillation — this is 
the general and summarising slogan of the moment. 

Written between April 30 
and May 3, 1918 

Published in 1918 Published according to 

in the pamphlet: N. Lenin 

The Immediate Tasks 
of the Soviet Government, 
All-Russia C.E.C. Publishers 

the text of the second 
edition of the pamphlet, 
1918, collated with the 



I. Completion of nationalisation of industry and 

II. Nationalisation of banks and gradual transition 
to socialism. 

III. Compulsory organisation of the population in 
consumer co-operative societies. 

{+Commodity exchange} 

IV. Accounting and control of production and distri- 
bution of goods. 

V. Labour discipline. 
{+Tax policy} 


Measures for transition to compulsory current accounts 
or to compulsory keeping of money in the banks. 

Compulsory organisation of the population in consumer 
co-operative, societies and measures for transition to this. 

Conditions of an agreement with co-operators on gradual 
transition of their apparatus towards organisation of the 
whole population in consumer co-operative societies 

Compulsory labour service, begun from the top. 

The most ruthless measures to combat chaos, 
disorder and idleness, and the most vigorous and severe 
measures for raising the discipline and self-discipline of 
the workers and peasants, are to be regarded as absolutely 
essential and urgent. 

Conversion of state control into a real control for setting 
up mobile groups of controllers in all spheres of economic 



Practical conditions concerning the employment of bourgeois 
intellectuals and saboteurs who express the desire to work 
with the Soviet government. 

Industrial courts for taking account of production, stocks 
of goods and labour productivity. 

(Immediate and categorical.) 

1. Completion of nationalisation of industry. 

2. Gradual transition to organisation of one and all in 
consumer co-operatives and commodity exchange. 

3. Banking policy. 

4. Labour discipline and so forth. 

5. Tax policy (finance). 

1. Completion of the nationalisation of all factories, 
railways, means of production and exchange. Categorical 
and ruthless struggle against the syndicalist and chaotic 
attitude to nationalised enterprises. 128 Persistent car- 
rying out of centralisation of economic life on a nation- 
wide scale. Unremitting demand for preliminary plans and 
estimates, weekly reports and actual increase of labour 
productivity, Establishment and practical trial of the appar- 
atus for managing the nationalised industries. 

Written in April 1918 

First published in 1933 
in Lenin Miscellany XXI 

Published according to 
the manuscript 



The Supreme Economic Council should immediately give 
its instructions to the Academy of Sciences, which has 
launched a systematic study and investigation of the natu- 
ral productive forces* of Russia, to set up a number of 
expert commissions for the speediest possible compilation 
of a plan for the reorganisation of industry and the economic 
progress of Russia. 

The plan should include: 

the rational distribution of industry in Russia from the 
standpoint of proximity to raw materials and the lowest 
consumption of labour-power in the transition from the 
processing of the raw materials to all subsequent stages 
in the processing of semi-manufactured goods, up to and 
including the output of the finished product; 

the rational merging and concentration of industry in a 
few big enterprises from the standpoint of the most up-to- 
date large-scale industry, especially trusts; 

enabling the present Russian Soviet Republic (excluding 
the Ukraine and the regions occupied by the Germans) 
as far as possible to provide itself independently with all 
the chief items of raw materials and organise main branches 
of industry; 

special attention to the electrification of industry and 
transport and the application of electricity to farming, 
and the use of lower grades of fuel (peat, low-grade coal) 

* Publication of this material must be accelerated to the utmost; 
a note about this must be sent to the Commissariat for Education, the 
Printing Workers' Trade Union and the Commissariat for Labour. 130 



for the production of electricity, with the lowest possible 
expenditure on extraction and transport; 

water power and wind motors in general and in their 
application to farming. 

Written in April 1918 

First published on March 4, Published according to 

1924 in Pravda No. 52 the manuscript 


TO THE C.C., R.C.P. 131 

I request you to put on the agenda the question of expel- 
ling from the Party those members who, being judges in 
the case (May 2, 1918) against bribe-takers, where bribery 
was proved and admitted by the defendants, confined them- 
selves to a sentence of six months' imprisonment. 

To award bribe-takers such derisively weak and mild 
sentences, instead of shooting, is disgraceful behaviour 
for a Communist and revolutionary. Such comrades must be 
pilloried by the court of public opinion and expelled from 
the Party, for their place is at the side of Kerensky and 
Martov and not at the side of revolutionary Communists. 


May 4, 1918 

First published in 1933 
in Lenin Miscellany XXI 

Published according to 
the manuscript 


Published May 9, 10, and 11, 1918 
in Pravda Nos. 88, 89, and 90 
Signed: N. Lenin 

Published according to the text of the 
pamphlet: N. Lenin, The Chief Task 
of Our Day, Pribol Publishers, Mos- 
cow, 1918, collated with the Pravda 
text and the text of the pamphlet: 
N. Lenin (V. I. Ulyanov), Old Articles 
on Almost New Subjects, Moscow, 1922 


The publication by a small group of "Left Communists" 
of their journal, Kommunist (No. 1, April 20, 1918), and 
of their "theses", strikingly confirms my views expressed in 
the pamphlet The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Govern- 
ment.* There could not be better confirmation, in politi- 
cal literature, of the utter naivete of the defence of petty- 
bourgeois sloppiness that is sometimes concealed by "Left" 
slogans. It is useful and necessary to deal with the argu- 
ments of "Left Communists" because they are character- 
istic of the period we are passing through. They show up 
with exceptional clarity the negative side of the "core" of 
this period. They are instructive, because the people we are 
dealing with are the best of those who have failed to under- 
stand the present period, people who by their knowledge and 
loyalty stand far, far above the ordinary representatives 
of the same mistaken views, namely, the Left Socialist- 


As a political magnitude, or as a group claiming to play 
a political role, the "Left Communist" group has presented 
its "Theses on the Present Situation". It is a good Marxist 
custom to give a coherent and complete exposition of 
the principles underlying one's views and tactics. And this 
good Marxist custom has helped to reveal the mistake 
committed by our "Lefts", because the mere attempt to 
argue and not to declaim exposes the unsoundness of their 

The first thing that strikes one is the abundance of allu- 
sions, hints and evasions with regard to the old question 

See this volume, pp. 235-77.— Ed. 



of whether it was right to conclude the Brest Treaty. The 
"Lefts" dare not put the question in a straightforward 
manner. They flounder about in a comical fashion, pile 
argument on argument, fish for reasons, plead that "on the 
one hand" it may be so, but "on the other hand" it may not, 
their thoughts wander over all and sundry subjects, they 
try all the time not to see that they are defeating them- 
selves. The "Lefts" are very careful to quote the figures: twelve 
votes at the Party Congress against peace, twenty-eight 
votes in favour, but they discreetly refrain from mention- 
ing that of the hundreds of votes cast at the meeting of the 
Bolshevik group of the Congress of Soviets they obtained 
less than one-tenth. They have invented a "theory" that 
the peace was carried by "the exhausted and declassed ele- 
ments", while it was opposed by "the workers and peasants 
of the southern regions, where there was greater vitality 
in economic life and the supply of bread was more as- 
sured".... Can one do anything but laugh at this? There is not 
a word about the voting at the All-Ukraine Congress of 
Soviets in favour of peace, nor about the social and class 
character of the typically petty-bourgeois and declassed 
political conglomeration in Russia who were opposed to 
peace (the Left Socialist-Revolutionary party). In an 
utterly childish manner, by means of amusing "scientific" 
explanations, they try to conceal their own bankruptcy, to 
conceal the facts, the mere review of which would show 
that it was precisely the declassed, intellectual "cream" 
of the party, the elite, who opposed the peace with slogans 
couched in revolutionary petty-bourgeois phrases, that it 
was precisely the mass of workers and exploited peasants 
who carried the peace. 

Nevertheless, in spite of all the above-mentioned decla- 
rations and evasions of the "Lefts" on the question of war 
and peace, the plain and obvious truth manages to come to 
light. The authors of the theses are compelled to admit 
that "the conclusion of peace has for the time being weak- 
ened the imperialists' attempts to make a deal on a world 
scale" (this is inaccurately formulated by the "Lefts", but 
this is not the place to deal with inaccuracies). "The con- 
clusion of peace has already caused the conflict between 
the imperialist powers to become more acute." 



Now this is a fact. Here is something that has decisive 
significance. That is why those who opposed the conclu- 
sion of peace were unwittingly playthings in the hands of 
the imperialists and fell into the trap laid for them by the 
imperialists. For, until the world socialist revolution breaks 
out, until it embraces several countries and is strong enough 
to overcome international imperialism, it is the direct duty 
of the socialists who have conquered in one country (espe- 
cially a backward one) not to accept battle against the giants 
of imperialism. Their duty is to try to avoid battle, to wait 
until the conflicts between the imperialists weaken them 
even more, and bring the revolution in other countries even 
nearer. Our "Lefts" did not understand this simple truth in 
January, February and March. Even now they are afraid 
of admitting it openly. But it comes to light through all 
their confused reasoning like "on the one hand it must be 
confessed, on the other hand one must admit". 

"During the coming spring and summer," the "Lefts" 
write in their theses, "the collapse of the imperialist sys- 
tem must begin. In the event of a victory for German impe- 
rialism in the present phase of the war this collapse can 
only be postponed, but it will then express itself in even 
more acute forms." 

This formulation is even more childishly inaccurate 
despite its playing at science. It is natural for children to 
"understand" science to mean something that can deter- 
mine in what year, spring, summer, autumn or winter the 
"collapse must begin". 

These are ridiculous, vain attempts to ascertain what 
cannot be ascertained. No serious politician will ever say 
when this or that collapse of a "system" "must begin" (the 
more so that the collapse of the system has already begun, 
and it is now a question of the moment when the outbreak 
of revolution in particular countries will begin). But an 
indisputable truth forces its way through this childishly 
helpless formulation, namely, the outbreaks of revolution 
in other, more advanced, countries are nearer now, a month 
since the beginning of the "respite" which followed the con- 
clusion of peace, than they were a month or six weeks 

What follows? 



It follows that the peace supporters were absolutely 
right, and their stand has been justified by the course of 
events. They were right in having drummed into the minds 
of the lovers of ostentation that one must be able to calcu- 
late the balance of forces and not help the imperialists 
by making the battle against socialism easier for them, 
when socialism is still weak, and when the chances of the 
battle are manifestly against socialism. 

Our "Left" Communists, however, who are also fond of 
calling themselves "proletarian" Communists, because there 
is very little that is proletarian about them and very much 
that is petty-bourgeois, are incapable of giving thought 
to the balance of forces, to calculating it. This is the core 
of Marxism and Marxist tactics, but they disdainfully 
brush aside the "core" with "proud" phrases such as: 

"...That the masses have become firmly imbued with an 
inactive 'peace mentality' is an objective fact of the politi- 
cal situation...." 

What a gem! After three years of the most agonising and 
reactionary war, the people, thanks to Soviet power and 
its correct tactics, which never lapsed into mere phrase- 
making, have obtained a very, very brief, insecure and 
far from sufficient respite. The "Left" intellectual strip- 
lings, however, with the magnificence of a self-infatuated 
Narcissus, profoundly declare "that the masses [???] have 
become firmly imbued [!!!] with an inactive [!!!???] 
peace mentality". Was I not right when I said at the Party 
Congress that the paper or journal of the "Lefts" ought to 
have been called not Kommunist but Szlachcicl* 

Can a Communist with the slightest understanding of 
the mentality and the conditions of life of the toiling and 
exploited people descend to the point of view of the typical 
declassed petty-bourgeois intellectual with the mental 
outlook of a noble or szlachcic, which declares that a "peace 
mentality" is "inactive" and believes that the brandishing 
of a cardboard sword is "activity"? For our "Lefts" merely 
brandish a cardboard sword when they ignore the universally 
known fact, of which the war in the Ukraine has served as 
an additional proof, that peoples utterly exhausted by 

See this volume, p. 105. — Ed. 



three years of butchery cannot go on fighting without a 
respite; and that war, if it cannot be organised on a 
national scale, very often creates a mentality of disintegra- 
tion peculiar to petty proprietors, instead of the iron 
discipline of the proletariat. Every page of Kommunist shows 
that our "Lefts" have no idea of iron proletarian discipline 
and how it is achieved, that they are thoroughly imbued 
with the mentality of the declassed petty-bourgeois intel- 


Perhaps all these phrases of the "Lefts" about war can be 
put down to mere childish exuberance, which, moreover, 
concerns the past, and therefore has not a shadow of polit- 
ical significance? This is the argument some people put 
up in defence of our "Lefts". But this is wrong. Anyone 
aspiring to political leadership must be able to think 
out political problems, and lack of this ability converts 
the "Lefts" into spineless preachers of a policy of vacilla- 
tion, which objectively can have only one result, namely, by 
their vacillation the "Lefts" are helping the imperialists to 
provoke the Russian Soviet Republic into a battle that will 
obviously be to its disadvantage, they are helping the 
imperialists to draw us into a snare. Listen to this: 

"...The Russian workers' revolution cannot 'save itself 
by abandoning the path of world revolution, by continually 
avoiding battle and yielding to the pressure of interna- 
tional capital, by making concessions to 'home capital'. 

"From this point of view it is necessary to adopt a deter- 
mined class international policy which will unite interna- 
tional revolutionary propaganda by word and deed, and to 
strengthen the organic connection with international so- 
cialism (and not with the international bourgeoisie) " 

I shall deal separately with the thrusts at home policy 
contained in this passage. But examine this riot of phrase- 
making — and timidity in deeds — in the sphere of 
foreign policy. What tactics are binding at the present time 
on all who do not wish to be tools of imperialist provocation, 
and who do not wish to walk into the snare? Every poli- 
tician must give a clear, straightforward reply to this 



question. Our Party's reply is well known. At the present 
moment we must retreat and avoid battle. Our "Lefts" dare not 
contradict this and shoot into the air: "A determined class 
international policy"!! 

This is deceiving the people. If you want to fight now, say 
so openly. If you don't wish to retreat now, say so openly. 
Otherwise, in your objective role, you are a tool of imperial- 
ist provocation. And your subjective "mentality" is that of 
a frenzied petty bourgeois who swaggers and blusters but 
senses perfectly well that the proletarian is right in retreat- 
ing and in trying to retreat in an organised way. He senses 
that the proletarian is right in arguing that because we lack 
strength we must retreat (before Western and Eastern 
imperialism) even as far as the Urals, for in this lies the only 
chance of playing for time while the revolution in the West 
matures, the revolution which is not "bound" (despite the 
twaddle of the "Lefts") to begin in "spring or summer", but 
which is coming nearer and becoming more probable every 

The "Lefts" have no policy of their "own". They dare 
not declare that retreat at the present moment is unneces- 
sary. They twist and turn, play with words, substitute the 
question of "continuously" avoiding battle for the question 
of avoiding battle at the present moment. They blow soap 
bubbles such as "international revolutionary propaganda 
by deed"!! What does this mean? 

It can only mean one of two things: either it is mere 
Nozdryovism, 132 or it means an offensive war to overthrow 
international imperialism. Such nonsense cannot be uttered 
openly, and that is why the "Left" Communists are obliged 
to take refuge from the derision of every politically con- 
scious proletarian behind high-sounding and empty phrases. 
They hope the inattentive reader will not notice the real 
meaning of the phrase "international revolutionary propa- 
ganda by deed". 

The flaunting of high-sounding phrases is character- 
istic of the declassed petty-bourgeois intellectuals. The 
organised proletarian Communists will certainly punish 
this "habit" with nothing less than derision and expulsion 
from all responsible posts. The people must be told the bit- 
ter truth simply, clearly and in a straightforward manner: 



it is possible, and even probable, that the war party will 
again get the upper hand in Germany (that is, an offensive 
against us will commence at once), and that Germany 
together with Japan, by official agreement or by tacit under- 
standing, will partition and strangle us. Our tactics, if we do 
not want to listen to the ranters, must be to wait, pro- 
crastinate, avoid battle and retreat. If we shake off the ranters 
and "brace ourselves" by creating genuinely iron, genuinely 
proletarian, genuinely communist discipline, we shall have 
a good chance of gaining many months. And then by re- 
treating even, if the worst comes to the worst, to the Urals, 
we shall make it easier for our ally (the international pro- 
letariat) to come to our aid, to "catch up" (to use the language 
of sport) the distance between the beginning of revolu- 
tionary outbreaks and revolution. 

These, and these alone, are the tactics which can in fact 
strengthen the connection between one temporarily iso- 
lated section of international socialism and the other sec- 
tions. But to tell the truth, all that your arguments lead to, 
dear "Left Communists", is the "strengthening of the organic 
connection" between one high-sounding phrase and another. 
A bad sort of "organic connection", this! 

I shall enlighten you, my amiable friends, as to why 
such disaster overtook you. It is because you devote more 
effort to learning by heart and committing to memory revo- 
lutionary slogans than to thinking them out. This leads 
you to write "the defence of the socialist fatherland" in 
quotation marks, which are probably meant to signify your 
attempts at being ironical, but which really prove that 
you are muddleheads. You are accustomed to regard "defenc- 
ism" as something base and despicable; you have learned 
this and committed it to memory. You have learned this by 
heart so thoroughly that some of you have begun talking 
nonsense to the effect that defence of the fatherland in an 
imperialist epoch is impermissible (as a matter of fact, 
it is impermissible only in an imperialist, reactionary war, 
waged by the bourgeoisie). But you have not thought out 
why and when "defencism" is abominable. 

To recognise defence of the fatherland means recognis- 
ing the legitimacy and justice of war. Legitimacy and jus- 
tice from what point of view? Only from the point of view 



of the socialist, proletariat and its struggle for its eman- 
cipation. We do not recognise any other point of view. If 
war is waged by the exploiting class with the object of 
strengthening its rule as a class, such a war is a criminal 
war, and "defencism" in such a war is a base betrayal of 
socialism. If war is waged by the proletariat after it has con- 
quered the bourgeoisie in its own country, and is waged 
with the object of strengthening and developing socialism, 
such a war is legitimate and "holy". 

We have been "defencists" since October 25, 1917. 
I have said this more than once very definitely, and you dare 
not deny this. It is precisely in the interests of "strengthen- 
ing the connection" with international socialism that we 
are in duty bound to defend our socialist fatherland. Those who 
treat frivolously the defence of the country in which the 
proletariat has already achieved victory are the ones who 
destroy the connection with international socialism. When 
we were the representatives of an oppressed class we did not 
adopt a frivolous attitude towards defence of the fatherland 
in an imperialist war. We opposed such defence on principle. 
Now that we have become representatives of the ruling 
class, which has begun to organise socialism, we demand 
that everybody adopt a serious attitude towards defence of 
the country. And adopting a serious attitude towards de- 
fence of the country means thoroughly preparing for it, and 
strictly calculating the balance of forces. If our forces are 
obviously small, the best means of defense is retreat into 
the interior of the country (anyone who regards this as an 
artificial formula, made up to suit the needs of the moment, 
should read old Clausewitz, one of the greatest authorities 
on military matters, concerning the lessons of history to be 
learned in this connection). The "Left Communists", how- 
ever, do not give the slightest indication that they understand 
the significance of the question of the balance of forces. 

When we were opposed to defencism on principle we were 
justified in holding up to ridicule those who wanted to 
"save" their fatherland, ostensibly in the interests of 
socialism. When we gained the right to be proletarian defen- 
cists the whole question was radically altered. It has become 
our duty to calculate with the utmost accuracy the differ- 
ent forces involved, to weigh with the utmost care the 



chances of our ally (the international proletariat) being 
able to come to our aid in time. It is in the interest of capi- 
tal to destroy its enemy (the revolutionary proletariat) 
bit by bit, before the workers in all countries have united 
(actually united, i.e., by beginning the revolution). It is in 
our interest to do all that is possible, to take advantage of 
the slightest opportunity to postpone the decisive battle 
until the moment (or until after the moment) the revolu- 
tionary workers' contingents have united in a single great 
international army. 


We shall pass on to the misfortunes of our "Left" Commu- 
nists in the sphere of home policy. It is difficult to read the 
following phrases in the theses on the present situation 
without smiling. 

"...The systematic use of the remaining means of pro- 
duction is conceivable only if a most determined policy of 
socialisation is pursued" ... "not to capitulate to the bour- 
geoisie and its petty-bourgeois intellectualist servitors, 
but to rout the bourgeoisie and to put down sabotage com- 

Dear "Left Communists", how determined they are, but 
how little thinking they display. What do they mean by 
pursuing "a most determined policy of socialisation"? 

One may or may not be determined on the question of 
nationalisation or confiscation, but the whole point is that 
even the greatest possible "determination" in the world is 
not enough to pass from nationalisation and confiscation to 
socialisation. The misfortune of our "Lefts" is that by their 
naive, childish combination of the words "most determined 
policy of socialisation" they reveal their utter failure to 
understand the crux of the question, the crux of the 
"present" situation. The misfortune of our "Lefts" is that they 
have missed the very essence of the "present situation", 
the transition from confiscation (the carrying out of which 
requires above all determination in a politician) to social- 
isation (the carrying out of which requires a different 
quality in the revolutionary). 

Yesterday, the main task of the moment was, as deter- 
minedly as possible, to nationalise, confiscate, beat down 



and crush the bourgeoisie, and put down sabotage. Today, 
only a blind man could fail to see that we have nationalised, 
confiscated, beaten down and put down more than we have 
had time to count. The difference between socialisation 
and simple confiscation is that confiscation can be carried 
out by "determination" alone, without the ability to calcu- 
late and distribute properly, whereas socialisation cannot 
be brought about without this ability. 

The historical service we have rendered is that yester- 
day we were determined (and we shall be tomorrow) in 
confiscating, in beating down the bourgeoisie, in putting 
down sabotage. To write about this today in "theses on the 
present situation" is to fix one's eyes on the past and to fail 
to understand the transition to the future. 

"...To put down sabotage completely " What a task 

they have found! Our saboteurs are quite sufficiently "put 
down". What we lack is something quite different. We lack 
the proper calculation of which saboteurs to set to work 
and where to place them. We lack the organisation of our 
own forces that is needed for, say, one Bolshevik leader or 
controller to be able to supervise a hundred saboteurs who 
are now coming into our service. When that is how matters 
stand, to flaunt such phrases as "a most determined policy 
of socialisation", "routing", and "completely putting down" 
is just missing the mark. It is typical of the petty-bour- 
geois revolutionary not to notice that routing, putting 
down, etc., is not enough for socialism. It is sufficient for a 
small proprietor enraged against a big proprietor. But no 
proletarian revolutionary would ever fall into such error. 

If the words we have quoted provoke a smile, the fol- 
lowing discovery made by the "Left Communists" will 
provoke nothing short of Homeric laughter. According to 
them, under the "Bolshevik deviation to the right" the 
Soviet Republic is threatened with "evolution towards 
state capitalism". They have really frightened us this time! 
And with what gusto these "Left Communists" repeat this 
threatening revelation in their theses and articles.... 

It has not occurred to them that state capitalism would 
be a step forward as compared with the present state of 
affairs in our Soviet Republic. If in approximately six 
months' time state capitalism became established in our 



Republic, this would be a great success and a sure guarantee 
that within a year socialism will have gained a perma- 
nently firm hold and will have become invincible in our 

I can imagine with what noble indignation a "Left Com- 
munist" will recoil from these words, and what "devastat- 
ing criticism" he will make to the workers against the "Bol- 
shevik deviation to the right". What! Transition to state 
capitalism in the Soviet Socialist Republic would be a step 
forward?... Isn't this the betrayal of socialism? 

Here we come to the root of the economic mistake of the 
"Left Communists". And that is why we must deal with 
this point in greater detail. 

Firstly, the "Left Communists" do not understand what 
kind of transition it is from capitalism to socialism that 
gives us the right and the grounds to call our country the 
Socialist Republic of Soviets. 

Secondly, they reveal their petty-bourgeois mentality 
precisely by not recognising the petty-bourgeois element as 
the principal enemy of socialism in our country. 

Thirdly, in making a bugbear of "state capitalism", they 
betray their failure to understand that the Soviet state 
differs from the bourgeois state economically. 

Let us examine these three points. 

No one, I think, in studying the question of the economic 
system of Russia, has denied its transitional character. Nor, 
I think, has any Communist denied that the term Socialist 
Soviet Republic implies the determination of Soviet power 
to achieve the transition to socialism, and not that the new 
economic system is recognised as a socialist order. 

But what does the word "transition" mean? Does it not 
mean, as applied to an economy, that the present system 
contains elements, particles, fragments of both capitalism 
and socialism? Everyone will admit that it does. But not 
all who admit this take the trouble to consider what ele- 
ments actually constitute the various socio-economic struc- 
tures that exist in Russia at the present time. And this is 
the crux of the question. 

Let us enumerate these elements: 

1) patriarchal, i.e., to a considerable extent natural, 
peasant farming; 



2) small commodity production (this Includes the majori- 
ty of those peasants who sell their grain); 

3) private capitalism; 

4) state capitalism; 

5) socialism. 

Russia is so vast and so varied that all these different 
types of socio-economic structures are intermingled. This 
is what constitutes the specific features of the situation. 

The question arises: what elements predominate? Clearly 
in a small-peasant country, the petty-bourgeois element 
predominates and it must predominate, for the great major- 
ity of those working the land are small commodity producers. 
The shell of our state capitalism (grain monopoly, state- 
controlled entrepreneurs and traders, bourgeois co-oper- 
ators) is pierced now in one place, now in another by 
profiteers, the chief object of profiteering being grain. 

It is in this field that the main struggle is being waged. 
Between what elements is this struggle being waged if we 
are to speak in terms of economic categories such as "state 
capitalism"? Between the fourth and the fifth in the order 
in which I have just enumerated them. Of course not. It is 
not state capitalism that is at war with socialism, but the 
petty bourgeoisie plus private capitalism fighting together 
against both state capitalism and socialism. The petty 
bourgeoisie oppose every kind of state interference, account- 
ing and control, whether it be state capitalist or state 
socialist. This is an absolutely unquestionable fact of 
reality, and the root of the economic mistake of the "Left 
Communists" is that they have failed to understand it. 
The profiteer, the commercial racketeer, the disrupter of 
monopoly — these are our principal "internal" enemies, the 
enemies of the economic measures of Soviet power. A hun- 
dred and twenty-five years ago it might have been excusable 
for the French petty bourgeoisie, the most ardent and 
sincere revolutionaries, to try to crush the profiteer by 
executing a few of the "chosen" and by making thunderous 
declamations. Today, however, the purely rhetorical attitude 
to this question assumed by some Left Socialist-Revolution- 
aries can rouse nothing but disgust and revulsion in every 
politically conscious revolutionary. We know perfectly 
well that the economic basis of profiteering is both the small 



proprietors, who are exceptionally widespread in Russia, 
and private capitalism, of which every petty bourgeois is 
an agent. We know that the million tentacles of this petty- 
bourgeois hydra now and again encircle various sections 
of the workers, that, instead of state monopoly, profiteering 
forces its way into every pore of our social and economic 

Those who fail to see this show by their blindness that 
they are slaves of petty-bourgeois prejudices. This is pre- 
cisely the case with our "Left Communists", who in words 
(and of course in their deepest convictions) are merciless 
enemies of the petty bourgeoisie, while in deeds they help 
only the petty bourgeoisie, serve only this section of the 
population and express only its point of view by fighting — 
in April 1918!! — against ... "state capitalism". They are 
wide of the mark! 

The petty bourgeoisie have money put away, the few thou- 
sand that they made during the war by "honest" and espe- 
cially by dishonest means. They are the characteristic 
economic type that serves as the basis of profiteering 
and private capitalism. Money is a certificate entitling 
the possessor to receive social wealth; and a vast section 
of small proprietors, numbering millions, cling to this 
certificate and conceal it from the "state". They do not 
believe in socialism or communism, and "mark time" until 
the proletarian storm blows over. Either we subordinate 
the petty bourgeoisie to our control and accounting (we can 
do this if we organise the poor, that is, the majority of 
the population or semi-proletarians, around the politically 
conscious proletarian vanguard), or they will overthrow 
our workers' power as surely and as inevitably as the 
revolution was overthrown by the Napoleons and Cavaignacs 
who sprang from this very soil of petty proprietorship. 
This is how the question stands. Only the Left Socialist- 
Revolutionaries fail to see this plain and evident truth 
through their mist of empty phrases about the "toiling" 
peasants. But who takes these phrase-mongering Left 
Socialist-Revolutionaries seriously? 

The petty bourgeois who hoards his thousands is an enemy 
of state capitalism. He wants to employ his thousands 
just for himself, against the poor, in opposition to any 



kind of state control. And the sum total of these thou- 
sands, amounting to many thousands of millions, forms the 
base for profiteering, which undermines our socialist con- 
struction. Let us assume that a certain number of workers 
produce in a few days values equal to 1,000. Let us then 
assume that 200 of this total vanishes owing to petty pro- 
fiteering, various kinds of embezzlement and the "evasion" 
by the small proprietors of Soviet decrees and regulations. 
Every politically conscious worker will say that if better 
order and organisation could be obtained at the price of 
300 out of the 1,000 he would willingly give 300 instead of 
200, for it will be quite easy under Soviet power to reduce 
this "tribute" later on to, say, 100 or 50, once order and 
organisation are established and once the petty-bourgeois 
disruption of state monopoly is completely overcome. 

This simple illustration in figures, which I have deliber- 
ately simplified to the utmost in order to make it absolutely 
clear, explains the present correlation of state capitalism 
and socialism. The workers hold state power and have every 
legal opportunity of "taking" the whole thousand, without 
giving up a single kopek, except for socialist purposes. 
This legal opportunity, which rests upon the actual tran- 
sition of power to the workers, is an element of socialism. 

But in many ways, the small proprietary and private 
capitalist element undermines this legal position, drags in 
profiteering, hinders the execution of Soviet decrees. 
State capitalism would be a gigantic step forward even if 
we paid more than we are paying at present (I took a numer- 
ical example deliberately to bring this out more sharply), 
because it is worth while paying for "tuition", because it 
is useful for the workers, because victory over disorder, 
economic ruin and laxity is the most important thing; 
because the continuation of the anarchy of small ownership 
is the greatest, the most serious danger, and it will cer- 
tainly be our ruin (unless we overcome it), whereas not 
only will the payment of a heavier tribute to state capital- 
ism not ruin us, it will lead us to socialism by the surest 
road. When the working class has learned how to defend the 
state system against the anarchy of small ownership, when it 
has learned to organise large-scale production on a national 
scale, along state capitalist lines, it will hold, if I may use the 



expression, all the trump cards, and the consolidation 
of socialism will be assured. 

In the first place, economically , state capitalism is immeas- 
urably superior to our present economic system. 

In the second place, there is nothing terrible in it for 
Soviet power, for the Soviet state is a state in which the 
power of the workers and the poor is assured. The "Left Com- 
munists" failed to understand these unquestionable truths, 
which, of course, a "Left Socialist-Revolutionary", who can- 
not connect any ideas on political economy in his head in 
general, will never understand, but which every Marxist 
must admit. It is not even worth while arguing with a 
Left Socialist-Revolutionary. It is enough to point to him 
as a "repulsive example" of a windbag. But the "Left Com- 
munists" must be argued with because it is Marxists who 
are making a mistake, and an analysis of their mistake will 
help the working class to find the true road. 


To make things even clearer, let us first of all take the 
most concrete example of state capitalism. Everybody 
knows what this example is. It is Germany. Here we have 
"the last word" in modern large-scale capitalist engineer- 
ing and planned organisation, subordinated to Junker-bour- 
geois imperialism. Cross out the words in italics, and in 
place of the militarist, Junker, bourgeois, imperialist 
state put also a state, but of a different social type, of a 
different class content — a Soviet state, that is, a proletar- 
ian state, and you will have the sum total of the conditions 
necessary for socialism. 

Socialism is inconceivable without large-scale capitalist 
engineering based on the latest discoveries of modern science. 
It is inconceivable without planned state organisation, 
which keeps tens of millions of people to the strictest observ- 
ance of a unified standard in production and distribution. 
We Marxists have always spoken of this, and it is not worth 
while wasting two seconds talking to people who do not 
understand even this (anarchists and a good half of the Left 



At the same time socialism is inconceivable unless the 
proletariat is the ruler of the state. This also is ABC. And 
history (which nobody, except Menshevik blockheads of 
the first order, ever expected to bring about "complete" 
socialism smoothly, gently, easily and simply) has taken 
such a peculiar course that it has given birth in 1918 to two 
unconnected halves of socialism existing side by side like 
two future chickens in the single shell of international 
imperialism. In 1918 Germany and Russia have become 
the most striking embodiment of the material realisation 
of the economic, the productive and the socio-economic 
conditions for socialism, on the one hand, and the political 
conditions, on the other. 

A successful proletarian revolution in Germany would 
immediately and very easily smash any shell of imperial- 
ism (which unfortunately is made of the best steel, and 
hence cannot be broken by the efforts of any ... chicken) 
and would bring about the victory of world socialism for 
certain, without any difficulty, or with slight difficulty — 
if, of course, by "difficulty" we mean difficult on a world- 
historical scale, and not in the parochial philistine sense. 

While the revolution in Germany is still slow in "com- 
ing forth", our task is to study the state capitalism of the 
Germans, to spare no effort in copying it and not shrink 
from adopting dictatorial methods to hasten the copying of it. 
Our task is to hasten this copying even more than Peter hasten- 
ed the copying of Western culture by barbarian Russia, and we 
must not hesitate to use barbarous methods in fighting bar- 
barism. If there are anarchists and Left Socialist-Revolutio- 
naries (I recall off-hand the speeches of Karelin and Ghe at 
the meeting of the Central Executive Committee) who in- 
dulge in Narcissus-like reflections and say that it is unbecom- 
ing for us revolutionaries to "take lessons" from German 
imperialism, there is only one thing we can say in reply: 
the revolution that took these people seriously would 
perish irrevocably (and deservedly). 

At present, petty-bourgeois capitalism prevails in Rus- 
sia, and it is one and the same road that leads from it to 
both large-scale state capitalism and to socialism, through 
one and the same intermediary station called "national ac- 
counting and control of production and distribution". Those 



who fail to understand this are committing an unpardonable 
mistake in economics. Either they do not know the facts of 
life, do not see what actually exists and are unable to look 
the truth in the face, or they confine themselves to abstractly 
comparing "capitalism" with "socialism" and fail to study 
the concrete forms and stages of the transition that is tak- 
ing place in our country. Let it be said in parenthesis that 
this is the very theoretical mistake which misled the best 
people in the Novaya Zhizn and Vperyod camp. The worst 
and the mediocre of these, owing to their stupidity and 
spinelessness, tag along behind the bourgeoisie, of whom 
they stand in awe. The best of them have failed to under- 
stand that it was not without reason that the teachers of 
socialism spoke of a whole period of transition from capital- 
ism to socialism and emphasised the "prolonged birth- 
pangs" of the new society. And this new society is again an 
abstraction which can come into being only by passing 
through a series of varied, imperfect concrete attempts to 
create this or that socialist state. 

It is because Russia cannot advance from the economic 
situation now existing here without traversing the ground 
which is common to state capitalism and to socialism (na- 
tional accounting and control) that the attempt to frighten 
others as well as themselves with "evolution towards state 
capitalism" (Kommunist No. 1, p. 8, col. 1) is utter theo- 
retical nonsense. This is letting one's thoughts wander 
away from the true road of "evolution", and failing to 
understand what this road is. In practice, it is equivalent to 
pulling us back to small proprietary capitalism. 

In order to convince the reader that this is not the first 
time I have given this "high" appreciation of state capital- 
ism and that I gave it before the Bolsheviks seized power I 
take the liberty of quoting the following passage from my 
pamphlet The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat 
It, written in September 1917. 

"...Try to substitute for the Junker-capitalist state, for 
the landowner-capitalist state, a revolutionary -democratic 
state, i.e., a state which in a revolutionary way abolishes 
all privileges and does not fear to introduce the fullest 
democracy in a revolutionary way. You will find that, 
given a really revolutionary-democratic state, state-monop- 



oly capitalism inevitably and unavoidably implies a 
step, and more than one step, towards socialism! 

"...For socialism is merely the next step forward from 
state-capitalist monopoly. 

"...State-monopoly capitalism is a complete material 
preparation for socialism, the threshold of socialism, a 
rung on the ladder of history between which and the rung 
called socialism there are no intermediate rungs" (pp. 27 
and 28).* 

Please note that this was written when Kerensky was in 
power, that we are discussing not the dictatorship of the 
proletariat, not the socialist state, but the "revolution- 
ary-democratic" state. Is it not clear that the higher we 
stand on this political ladder, the more completely we 
incorporate the socialist state and the dictatorship of the 
proletariat in the Soviets, the less ought we to fear "state 
capitalism"? Is it not clear that from the material, economic 
and productive point of view, we are not yet on "the thresh- 
old" of socialism? Is it not clear that we cannot pass through 
the door of socialism without crossing "the threshold" we 
have not yet reached? 

From whatever side we approach the question, only one 
conclusion can be drawn: the argument of the "Left Commu- 
nists" about the "state capitalism" which is alleged to be 
threatening us is an utter mistake in economics and is evi- 
dent proof that they are complete slaves of petty-bourgeois 


The following is also extremely instructive. 

When we argued with Comrade Bukharin in the Central 
Executive Committee,** he declared, among other things, 
that on the question of high salaries for specialists "we" 
(evidently meaning the "Left Communists") were "more to 
the right than Lenin", for in this case "we" saw no deviation 
from principle, bearing in mind Marx's words that under 
certain conditions it is more expedient for the working 
class to "buy out the whole lot of them" 133 (namely, the 

See present edition, Vol. 25, pp. 361, 362, 363.— Ed. 
See this volume, p. 310. —Ed. 



whole lot of capitalists, i.e., to buy from the bourgeoisie 
the land, factories, works and other means of production). 

This extremely interesting statement shows, in the 
first place, that Bukharin is head and shoulders above the 
Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and anarchists, that he is 
by no means hopelessly stuck in the mud of phrase-making, 
but on the contrary is making efforts to think out the 
concrete difficulties of the transition — the painful and dif- 
ficult transition — from capitalism to socialism. 

In the second place, this statement makes Bukharin's 
mistake still more glaring. 

Let us consider Marx's idea carefully. 

Marx was talking about the Britain of the seventies of 
the last century, about the culminating point in the devel- 
opment of pre-monopoly capitalism. At that time Britain 
was a country in which militarism and bureaucracy were 
less pronounced than in any other, a country in which there 
was the greatest possibility of a "peaceful" victory for social- 
ism in the sense of the workers "buying out" the bourgeoi- 
sie. And Marx said that under certain conditions the work- 
ers would certainly not refuse to buy out the bourgeoisie. 
Marx did not commit himself, or the future leaders of the 
socialist revolution, to matters of form, to ways and means 
of bringing about the revolution. He understood perfectly 
well that a vast number of new problems would arise, that 
the whole situation would change in the course of the revo- 
lution, and that the situation would change radically and 
often in the course of revolution. 

Well, and what about Soviet Russia? Is it not clear that 
after the seizure of power by the proletariat and after the 
crushing of the exploiters' armed resistance and sabotage, 
certain conditions prevail which correspond to those which 
might have existed in Britain half a century ago had a 
peaceful transition to socialism begun there? The subor- 
dination of the capitalists to the workers in Britain would 
have been assured at that time owing to the following cir- 
cumstances: (1) the absolute preponderance of workers, of 
proletarians, in the population owing to the absence of a 
peasantry (in Britain in the seventies there was hope of an 
extremely rapid spread of socialism among agricultural 
labourers); (2) the excellent organisation of the proletariat 



in trade unions (Britain was at that time the leading country 
in the world in this respect); (3) the comparatively high 
level of culture of the proletariat, which had been trained 
by centuries of development of political liberty; (4) the 
old habit of the well-organised British capitalists of settl- 
ing political and economic questions by compromise — at 
that time the British capitalists were better organised than 
the capitalists of any country in the world (this superiority 
has now passed to Germany). These were the circumstances 
which at that time gave rise to the idea that the peaceful 
subjugation of the British capitalists by the workers was 

In our country, at the present time, this subjugation is 
assured by certain premises of fundamental significance 
(the victory in October and the suppression, from October 
to February, of the capitalists' armed resistance and sab- 
otage). But instead of the absolute preponderance of work- 
ers, of proletarians, in the population, and instead of a 
high degree of organisation among them, the important 
factor of victory in Russia was the support the proletarians 
received from the poor peasants and those who had experi- 
enced sudden ruin. Finally, we have neither a high degree of 
culture nor the habit of compromise. If these concrete con- 
ditions are carefully considered, it will become clear that 
we can and ought to employ two methods simultaneously . 
On the one hand we must ruthlessly suppress* the uncul- 
tured capitalists who refuse to have anything to do with 
"state capitalism" or to consider any form of compromise, 
and who continue by means of profiteering, by bribing the 
poor peasants, etc., to hinder the realisation of the measures 

* In this case also we must look truth in the face. We still have too 
little of that ruthlessness which is indispensable for the success of 
socialism, and we have too little not because we lack determination. 
We have sufficient determination. What we do lack is the ability to 
catch quickly enough a sufficient number of profiteers, racketeers and 
capitalists — the people who infringe the measures passed by the So- 
viets. The "ability" to do this can only be acquired by establishing ac- 
counting and control! Another thing is that the courts are not suffi- 
ciently firm. Instead of sentencing people who take bribes to be shot, 
they sentence them to six months' imprisonment. These two defects 
have the same social root: the influence of the petty-bourgeois element, 
its flabbiness. 



taken by the Soviets. On the other hand, we must use 
the method of compromise, or of buying off the cultured 
capitalists who agree to "state capitalism", who are capable 
of putting it into practice and who are useful to the prole- 
tariat as intelligent and experienced organisers of the 
largest types of enterprises, which actually supply products 
to tens of millions of people. 

Bukharin is an extremely well-read Marxist economist. He 
therefore remembered that Marx was profoundly right when 
he taught the workers the importance of preserving the 
organisation of large-scale production, precisely for the 
purpose of facilitating the transition to socialism. Marx 
taught that (as an exception, and Britain was then an ex- 
ception) the idea was conceivable of paying the capitalists 
well, of buying them off, if the circumstances were such as 
to compel the capitalists to submit peacefully and to come 
over to socialism in a cultured and organised fashion, pro- 
vided they were paid. 

But Bukharin went astray because he did not go deep 
enough into the specific features of the situation in Rus- 
sia at the present time — an exceptional situation when we, 
the Russian proletariat, are in advance of any Britain or 
any Germany as regards our political order, as regards the 
strength of the workers' political power, but are behind 
the most backward West-European country as regards or- 
ganising a good state capitalism, as regards our level of 
culture and the degree of material and productive prepared- 
ness for the "introduction" of socialism. Is it not clear that 
the specific nature of the present situation creates the need 
for a specific type of "buying out" which the workers must 
offer to the most cultured, the most skilled, the most ca- 
pable organisers among the capitalists who are ready to 
enter the service of Soviet power and to help honestly in 
organising "state" production on the largest possible scale? 
Is it not clear that in this specific situation we must make, 
every effort to avoid two mistakes, both of which are of a 
petty-bourgeois nature? On the one hand, it would be a 
fatal mistake to declare that since there is a discrepancy 
between our economic "forces" and our political strength, 
it "follows" that we should not have seized power. 134 Such 
an argument can be advanced only by a 'man in a muffler", 135 



who forgets that there will always be such a "discrepancy", 
that it always exists in the development of nature as well 
as in the development of society, that only by a series of 
attempts — each of which, taken by itself, will be one- 
sided and will suffer from certain inconsistencies — will 
complete socialism be created by the revolutionary co-opera- 
tion of the proletarians of all countries. 

On the other hand, it would be an obvious mistake to 
give free rein to ranters and phrase-mongers who allow 
themselves to be carried away by the "dazzling" revolution- 
ary spirit, but who are incapable of sustained, thoughtful 
and deliberate revolutionary work which takes into account 
the most difficult stages of transition. 

Fortunately, the history of the development of the rev- 
olutionary parties and of the struggle that Bolshevism waged 
against them has left us a heritage of sharply defined types, 
of which the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and anarch- 
ists are striking examples of bad revolutionaries. They 
are now shouting hysterically, choking and shouting them- 
selves hoarse, against the "compromise" of the "Right Bol- 
sheviks". But they are incapable of thinking what is bad in 
"compromise", and why "compromise" has been justly con- 
demned by history and the course of the revolution. 

Compromise in Kerensky's time meant the surrender of 
power to the imperialist bourgeoisie, and the question of 
power is the fundamental question of every revolution. 
Compromise by a section of the Bolsheviks in October- 
November 1917 either meant that they feared the proletariat 
seizing power or wished to share power equally, not only 
with "unreliable fellow-travellers" like the Left Socialist- 
Revolutionaries, but also with the enemies, with the 
Chernovists and the Mensheviks. The latter would inevitab- 
ly have hindered us in fundamental matters, such as the 
dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, the ruthless sup- 
pression of the Bogayevskys, the universal setting up of 
the Soviet institutions, and in every act of confiscation. 

Now power has been seized, retained and consolidated 
in the hands of a single party, the party of the proletariat, 
even without the "unreliable fellow-travellers". To speak of 
compromise at the present time when there is no question, 
and can be none, of sharing power, of renouncing the 



dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie, is merely 
to repeat, parrot-fashion, words which have been learned 
by heart but not understood. To describe as "compromise" 
the fact that, having arrived at a situation when we can and 
must rule the country, we try to win over to our side, not 
grudging the cost, the most skilled people capitalism has 
trained and to take them into our service against small 
proprietary disintegration, reveals a total incapacity to 
think out the economic tasks of socialist construction. 

Therefore, while it is to Comrade Bukharin's credit that 
on the Central Executive Committee he "felt ashamed" 
of the "service" he had been rendered by Karelin and Ghe, 
nevertheless, as far as the "Left Communist" trend is con- 
cerned, the reference to their political comrades-in-arms 
still remains a serious warning. 

Take, for example, Znamya Truda, the organ of the Left 
Socialist-Revolutionaries, of April 25, 1918, which proudly 
declares, "The present position of our party coincides with 
that of another trend in Bolshevism (Bukharin, Pokrov- 
sky and others)". Or take the Menshevik Vperyod of the 
same date, which contains among other articles the follow- 
ing "thesis" by the notorious Menshevik Isuv: 

"The policy of Soviet power, from the very outset devoid 
of a genuinely proletarian character, has lately pursued 
more and more openly a course of compromise with the 
bourgeoisie and has assumed an obviously anti-working- 
class character. On the pretext of nationalising industry, 
they are pursuing a policy of establishing industrial 
trusts, and on the pretext of restoring the productive forces 
of the country, they are attempting to abolish the eight- 
hour day, to introduce piece-work and the Taylor system, 
black lists and victimisation. This policy threatens to 
deprive the proletariat of its most important economic 
gains and to make it a victim of unrestricted exploitation 
by the bourgeoisie." 

Isn't it marvellous? 

Kerensky's friends, who, together with him, conducted 
an imperialist war for the sake of the secret treaties, which 
promised annexations to the Russian capitalists, the col- 
leagues of Tsereteli, who, on June 11, threatened to disarm 
the workers, 136 the Lieberdans, who screened the rule of 



the bourgeoisie with high-sounding phrases — these are the 
very people who accuse Soviet power of "compromising with 
the bourgeoisie", of "establishing trusts" (that is, of estab- 
lishing "state capitalism"!), of introducing the Taylor 

Indeed, the Bolsheviks ought to present Isuv with a 
medal, and his thesis ought to be exhibited in every workers' 
club and union as an example of the provocative speeches of 
the bourgeoisie. The workers know these Lieberdans, Tse- 
retelis and Isuvs very well now. They know them from 
experience, and it would be extremely useful indeed for 
the workers to think over the reason why such lackeys of 
the bourgeoisie should incite the workers to resist the Tay- 
lor system and the "establishment of trusts". 

Class-conscious workers will carefully compare the "the- 
sis" of Isuv, a friend of the Lieberdans and the Tseretelis, 
with the following thesis of the "Left Communists". 

"The introduction of labour discipline in connection with 
the restoration of capitalist management of industry can- 
not considerably increase the productivity of labour, but 
it will diminish the class initiative, activity and organisa- 
tion of the proletariat. It threatens to enslave the working 
class; it will rouse discontent among the backward elements 
as well as among the vanguard of the proletariat. In order 
to implement this system in the face of the hatred prevail- 
ing among the proletariat against the 'capitalist saboteurs', 
the Communist Party would have to rely on the petty bour- 
geoisie, as against the workers, and in this way would ruin 
itself as the party of the proletariat" (Kommunist No. 1, p. 8, 
col. 2). 

This is most striking proof that the "Lefts" have fallen 
into the trap, have allowed themselves to be provoked by 
the Isuvs and the other Judases of capitalism. It serves 
as a good lesson for the workers, who know that it is pre- 
cisely the vanguard of the proletariat which stands for 
the introduction of labour discipline, and that it is pre- 
cisely the petty bourgeoisie which is doing its utmost to 
disrupt this discipline. Speeches such as the thesis of the 
"Lefts" quoted above are a terrible disgrace and imply 
the complete renunciation of communism in practice and 
complete desertion to the camp of the petty bourgeoisie. 



"In connection with the restoration of capitalist manage- 
ment" — these are the words with which the "Left Commu- 
nists" hope to "defend themselves". A perfectly useless 
defence, because, in the first place, when putting "manage- 
ment" in the hands of capitalists Soviet power appoints 
workers' Commissars or workers' committees who watch 
the manager's every step, who learn from his management 
experience and who not only have the right to appeal against 
his orders, but can secure his removal through the organs of 
Soviet power. In the second place, "management" is entrust- 
ed to capitalists only for executive functions while at 
work, the conditions of which are determined by the Soviet 
power, by which they may be abolished or revised. In the 
third place, "management" is entrusted by the Soviet power 
to capitalists not as capitalists, but as technicians or organ- 
isers for higher salaries. And the workers know very well 
that ninety-nine per cent of the organisers and first-class 
technicians of really large-scale and giant enterprises, 
trusts or other establishments belong to the capitalist class. 
But it is precisely these people whom we, the proletarian 
party, must appoint to "manage" the labour process and the 
organisation of production, for there are no other people 
who have practical experience in this matter. The workers, 
having grown out of the infancy when they could have been 
misled by "Left" phrases or petty-bourgeois loose thinking, 
are advancing towards socialism precisely through the 
capitalist management of trusts, through gigantic machine 
industry, through enterprises which have a turnover of 
several millions per year — only through such a system of 
production and such enterprises. The workers are not petty 
bourgeois. They are not afraid of large-scale "state capi- 
talism", they prize it as their proletarian weapon which 
their Soviet power will use against small proprietary dis- 
integration and disorganisation. 

This is incomprehensible only to the declassed and con- 
sequently thoroughly petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, typi- 
fied among the "Left Communists" by Osinsky, when he 
writes in their journal: 

"...The whole initiative in the organisation and manage- 
ment of any enterprise will belong to the 'organisers 
of the trusts'. We are not going to teach them, or make 



rank-and-file workers out of them, we are going to learn 
from them" (Kommunist No. 1, p. 14, col. 2). 

The attempted irony in this passage is aimed at my 
words "learn socialism from the organisers of the trusts". 

Osinsky thinks this is funny. He wants to make "rank- 
and-file workers" out of the organisers of the trusts. If 
this had been written by a man of the age of which the poet 
wrote "But fifteen years, not more?..." 137 there would have 
been nothing surprising about it. But it is somewhat strange 
to hear such things from a Marxist who has learned 
that socialism is impossible unless it makes use of the achieve- 
ments of the engineering and culture created by large- 
scale capitalism. There is no trace of Marxism in this. 

No. Only those are worthy of the name of Communists 
who understand that it is impossible to create or introduce 
socialism without learning from the organisers of the 
trusts. For socialism is not a figment of the imagination, 
but the assimilation and application by the proletarian van- 
guard, which has seized power, of what has been created by 
the trusts. We, the party of the proletariat, have no other 
way of acquiring the ability to organise large-scale pro- 
duction on trust lines, as trusts are organised, except by 
acquiring it from first-class capitalist experts. 

We have nothing to teach them, unless we undertake the 
childish task of "teaching" the bourgeois intelligentsia 
socialism. We must not teach them, but expropriate them 
(as is being done in Russia "determinedly" enough), put a 
stop to their sabotage, subordinate them as a section or 
group to Soviet power. We, on the other hand, if we are 
not Communists of infantile age and infantile understand- 
ing, must learn from them, and there is something to learn, 
for the party of the proletariat and its vanguard have 
no experience of independent work in organising giant 
enterprises which serve the needs of scores of millions of 

The best workers in Russia have realised this. They have 
begun to learn from the capitalist organisers, the managing 
engineers and the technicians. They have begun to learn 
steadily and cautiously with easy things, gradually passing 
on to the more difficult things. If things are going more 
slowly in the iron and steel and engineering industries, it is 



because they present greater difficulties. But the textile 
and tobacco workers and tanners are not afraid of "state 
capitalism" or of "learning from the organisers of the 
trusts", as the declassed petty-bourgeois intelligentsia are. 
These workers in the central leading institutions like Chief 
Leather Committee and Central Textile Committee take 
their place by the side of the capitalists, learn from them, 
establish trusts, establish "state capitalism", which under 
Soviet power represents the threshold of socialism, the con- 
dition of its firm victory. 

This work of the advanced workers of Russia, together 
with their work of introducing labour discipline, has begun 
and is proceeding quietly, unobtrusively, without the noise 
and fuss so necessary to some "Lefts". It is proceeding very 
cautiously and gradually, taking into account the lessons 
of practical experience. This hard work, the work of learning 
practically how to build up large-scale production, is the 
guarantee that we are on the right road, the guarantee that 
the class-conscious workers in Russia are carrying on the 
struggle against small proprietary disintegration and 
disorganisation, against petty-bourgeois indiscipline* — the 
guarantee of the victory of communism. 


Two remarks in conclusion. 

In arguing with the "Left Communists" on April 4, 1918 
(see Kommunist No. 1, p. 4, footnote), I put it to them 
bluntly: "Explain what you are dissatisfied with in the 
railway decree; submit your amendments to it. It is your 
duty as Soviet leaders of the proletariat to do so, other- 
wise what you say is nothing but empty phrases." 

* It is extremely characteristic that the authors of the theses do 
not say a single word about the significance of the dictatorship of the 
proletariat in the economic sphere. They talk only of the "organisation" 
and so on. But that is accepted also by the petty bourgeoisie, who shun 
dictatorship by the workers in economic relations. A proletarian 
revolutionary could never at such a moment "forget" this core of the pro- 
letarian revolution, which is directed against the economic founda- 
tions of capitalism. 



The first issue of Kommunist appeared on April 20, 1918, 
but did not contain a single word about how, according to 
the "Left Communists", the railway decree should be 
altered or amended. 

The "Left Communists" stand condemned by their own 
silence. They did nothing but attack the railway decree with 
all sorts of insinuations (pp. 8 and 16 of No. 1), they gave 
no articulate answer to the question, "How should the 
decree be amended if it is wrong?" 

No comment is needed. The class-conscious workers 
will call such "criticism" of the railway decree (which is 
a typical example of our line of action, the line of firm- 
ness, the line of dictatorship, the line of proletarian dis- 
cipline) either "Isuvian" criticism or empty phrase-making. 

Second remark. The first issue of Kommunist contained 
a very flattering review by Comrade Bukharin of my pam- 
phlet The State and Revolution. But however much I value 
the opinion of people like Bukharin, my conscience compels 
me to say that the character of the review reveals a sad and 
significant fact. Bukharin regards the tasks of the prole- 
tarian dictatorship from the point of view of the past and not- 
of the future. Bukharin noted and emphasised what the pro- 
letarian revolutionary and the petty-bourgeois revolution- 
ary may have in common on the question of the state. But 
Bukharin "overlooked" the very thing that distinguishes 
the one from the other. 

Bukharin noted and emphasised that the old state 
machinery must be "smashed" and "blown up", that the bour- 
geoisie must be "finally and completely strangled" and so on. 
The frenzied petty bourgeoisie may also want this. And 
this, in the main, is what our revolution has already done 
between October 1917 and February 1918. 

In my pamphlet I also mention what even the most revo- 
lutionary petty bourgeois cannot want, what the class-con- 
scious proletarian does want, what our revolution has not 
yet accomplished. On this task, the task of tomorrow, 
Bukharin said nothing. 

And I have all the more reason not to be silent on this 
point, because, in the first place, a Communist is expected 
to devote greater attention to the tasks of tomorrow, and 
not of yesterday, and, in the second place, my pamphlet 



was written before the Bolsheviks seized power, when it 
was impossible to treat the Bolsheviks to vulgar petty- 
bourgeois arguments such as: "Yes, of course, after seizing 
power, you begin to talk about discipline." 

"...Socialism will develop into communism ... since 
people will become accustomed to observing the elementary 
conditions of social life without violence and without 
subordination." {The State and Revolution, pp. 77-78*; 
thus, "elementary conditions" were discussed before the 
seizure of power.) 

"...Only then will democracy begin to wither away ..." 
when "people gradually become accustomed to observing 
the elementary rules of social intercourse that have been 
known for centuries and repeated for thousands of years 
in all copy-book maxims; they will become accustomed to 
observing them without force, without coercion, without 
the special apparatus for coercion called the state" {ibid., 
p. 84**; thus mention was made of "copy-book maxims" 
before the seizure of power). 

"...The higher phase of the development of communism" 
(from each according to his ability, to each according to 
his needs) "...presupposes not the present productivity 
of labour and not the present ordinary run of people, who, 
like the seminary students in Pomyalovsky's stories, are 
capable of damaging the stocks of public wealth just for 
fun, and of demanding the impossible" {ibid., p. 91).*** 

"Until the higher phase of communism arrives, the 
socialists demand the strictest control by society and by the 
state over the measure of labour and the measure of consump- 
tion ..." {ibid.). 

"Accounting and control — that is mainly what is needed 
for the smooth working, for the proper functioning 
of the first phase of communist society" {ibid., p. 95).**** 
And this control must be established not only over "the 
insignificant capitalist minority, over the gentry who 
wish to preserve their capitalist habits", but also over the 

* See present edition, Vol. 25, p. 461. 
**Ibid., p. 467.— Ed. 
***Ibid., p. 474.— Ed. 
****Ibid., p. 478. -Ed. 




workers who "have been thoroughly corrupted by capi- 
talism" (ibid., p. 96)* and over the "parasites, the sons of 
the wealthy, the swindlers and other guardians of capitalist 
traditions" (ibid.). 

It is significant that Bukharin did not emphasise this. 

May 5, 1918 

Ibid., Vol. 25, p. 479.— Ed. 



To yield to the German ultimatum. The British ultimatum 
to be rejected. (For war against Germany threatens greater 
losses and calamities than against Japan.) 

In view of the obvious political alliance between the 
Ukrainian and Russian counter-revolution, martial law to be 
instituted against the bourgeoisie. 

Every effort to be exerted for defence of the Urals-Kuz- 
netsk area and territory from both Japan and Germany.* 

Negotiations to be conducted with Mirbach to ascertain 
whether Finland and the Ukraine are being obliged to con- 
clude peace with Russia, and to hasten this peace in every 
way, while recognising that it will bring about new annexa- 

Adopted in the C.C. 
on Monday, May 6, 
1918, at night 

First published in 1929 Published according to 

in Lenin Miscellany XI the manuscript 

* Immediate evacuation to the Urals of everything in general and 
of the Stationery Office in particular. 



The draft decision to be revised in the following way: 

1) delete the references to the international situation; 

2) insert that after peace with the Ukraine we shall 
be left with only just enough grain to save us from famine; 

3) insert that decisions of the dictator will be checked 
by his collegium, which has the right, without holding up 
implementation, to appeal to the Council of People's Com- 

4) insert that decisions which by their nature are con- 
nected with the Commissariat for Ways of Communication 
or the Supreme Economic Council are to be adopted by 
consultation with the appropriate departments; 

5) give a more precise legal formulation of the rights 
of the Commissar for Food; 

6) emphasise more strongly the basic idea of the neces- 
sity, for salvation from famine, of conducting and carrying 
through a ruthless and terrorist struggle and war against 
peasant or other bourgeois elements who retain surplus 
grain for themselves; 

7) lay down precisely that owners of grain who possess 
surplus grain and do not send it to the depots and places of 
grain collection will be declared enemies of the people and 
will be subject to imprisonment for a term of not less than 
ten years, confiscation of all their property and expulsion 
for ever from the community; 

8) insert an addition on the duty of working peasants 
who are propertyless and do not possess surpluses to join 
forces for ruthless struggle against the kulaks; 



9) define precisely the relation of the delegate commit- 
tees to the gubernia food committees and the rights and 
duties of the former in carrying out food work. 

Written on May 8, 1918 

First published in 1929 Published according to 

in Lenin Miscellany XVIII the manuscript 



May 11, 1918 

In connection with the wireless message from the Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the German troops in the East. 

The People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs considers it 
necessary to express its emphatic protest to the German Gov- 

1) On no occasion nor in any document has the German 
Government made any statement to us alleging that our 
fleet has taken part in fighting against German troops in the 

2) Consequently the statement to this effect in the wire- 
less message of May 11, 1918, is clearly untrue and is not 
confirmed in the acts of the German Government. 

3) If part of the fleet considered itself attached to the 
Ukrainian fleet, it remained in Sevastopol. 

3 bis) If our fleet left Sevastopol this happened only 
after the Germans' offensive and the attack on Sevastopol; 
consequently, in this case clearly the Brest Treaty was vio- 
lated by the Germans and not by us. 

4) The facts prove, therefore, that we firmly stand by 
the Brest Treaty, but that the Germans have violated it by 
occupying the entire Crimea. 

5) They have occupied it solely with German troops, 
removing therefrom all Ukrainians. 

6) They have occupied the Crimea after the German Gov- 
ernment in its wireless message of the month of 1918, 141 
had quite precisely stated that it considered the Crimea not 
to be part of the territory of the Ukraine. 



7) The German Ambassador Mirbach has stated to our 
Commissar for Foreign Affairs that Germany is not claiming 
new territorial acquisitions. 

8) If at the present time the German Government has 
adopted a different position and is presenting demands for 
the Crimea or part of the Crimea or other territorial acqui- 
sitions, we consider that complete clarity in this matter is 
absolutely necessary, and we state again officially that for 
our part we insist on the conclusion of a precisely formulated 
peace with Finland, the Ukraine and Turkey, which is wag- 
ing war in defiance of the Brest Peace Treaty. 

9) We once again insistently request the German Govern- 
ment to inform us whether it holds the view that peace with 
the Ukraine, Finland and Turkey is desirable, and what 
steps it has undertaken or will undertake with this aim. 

10) On the question of the Black Sea fleet we agree to 
give any new guarantees of its non-intervention in the war or 
of its disarmament (concerning which Ambassador Mirbach 
made an official statement to us yesterday, May 10, 1918), 
provided the German Government informs us of the exact 
terms of a complete peace, i.e., peace with Finland and the 
Ukraine and Turkey, and provided this peace is concluded, 
on which we insist. 

11) Nor do we in any way refuse to return the fleet to 
Sevastopol if this port — in accordance with Mirbach's 
statement of May 10, 1918, in a conversation with the 
People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs — is not annexed in 
one form or another and is not occupied by Germany, and a 
clearly defined peace with the Germans, constituting part 
of the Finnish, Ukrainian and Turkish armies, is concluded. 

Published for the first time 
according to the manuscript 




The extreme instability of the international situation 
of the Soviet Republic, surrounded as it is by imperialist 
powers, has been frequently pointed out in the Bolshevik 
press and has been admitted in the resolutions of the higher 
organs of Soviet power. 

During the past few days, i.e., the first ten days of May 
1918, the political situation has become extremely critical 
owing to both external and internal causes: 

First, the direct offensive of the counter-revolutionary 
forces (Semyonov and others) with the aid of the Japanese in 
the Far East has been stepped up, and in connection with it 
there are a number of signs indicating the possibility of 
the entire anti-German imperialist coalition coming to an 
agreement on the presentation of an ultimatum to Russia — 
either fight against Germany, or there will be a Japanese 
invasion aided by us. 

Secondly, since Brest the war party has gained the upper 
hand in German politics in general, and this party could now, 
at any moment, gain the upper hand on the question of an 
immediate general offensive against Russia, i.e., it could 
completely overcome the other policy of German bourgeois- 
imperialist circles that strive for fresh annexations in Rus- 
sia but for the time being want peace with her and not a 
general offensive against her. 

Thirdly, the restoration of bourgeois-landowner monarch- 
ism in the Ukraine with the support of the Constitutional- 
Democratic and Octobrist elements of the bourgeoisie of 
all Russia and with the aid of the German troops was bound 



to make the struggle against the counter-revolution in 
Russia more intense, was bound to encourage the plans and 
raise the spirit of our counter-revolutionaries. 

Fourthly, the disorganised food situation has become 
extremely acute and in many places has led to real hunger 
both because we were cut off from Rostov-on-Don and 
because of the efforts of the petty bourgeoisie and the capital- 
ists in general to sabotage the grain monopoly, accom- 
panied by insufficiently firm, disciplined and ruthless 
opposition on the part of the ruling class, i.e., the prole- 
tariat, to those strivings, efforts and attempts. 


The foreign policy of Soviet power must not be changed in 
any way. Our military preparations are not yet complete, 
and our general slogan, therefore, will remain as before — 
manoeuvre, withdraw, bide our time, and continue our 
preparations with all our might. 

Although we do not in general reject military agreements 
with one of the imperialist coalitions against the other in 
those cases in which such an agreement could, without 
undermining the basis of Soviet power, strengthen its position 
and paralyse the attacks of any imperialist power, we cannot 
at the present moment enter into a military agreement with 
the Anglo-French coalition. For them, the importance of 
such an agreement would be the diversion of German 
troops from the West, i.e., by means of the advance of many 
Japanese army corps into the interior of European Russia, 
which is an unacceptable condition since it would mean 
the complete collapse of Soviet power. If the Anglo-French 
coalition were to present us with an ultimatum of this kind 
we should reject it, because the danger of the Japanese 
advance can more easily be paralysed (or can be delayed for a 
longer time) than the threat of the Germans occupying Pet- 
rograd, Moscow and a large part of European Russia. 


In considering the tasks of the foreign policy of Soviet 
power at the present moment, the greatest caution, discre- 
tion and restraint must be observed in order not to help 



the extreme elements in the war parties of Japan and Ger- 
many by any ill-considered or hasty step. 

The fact of the matter is that the extreme elements in 
the war parties of both these countries favour an immediate 
general offensive against Russia for the purpose of occupying 
all her territory and overthrowing Soviet power. At any 
moment these extreme elements may gain the upper 

On the other hand, however, it is an undoubted fact that 
the majority of the imperialist bourgeoisie in Germany are 
against such a policy and at the present moment prefer 
the annexationist peace with Russia to a continuation of 
the war for the simple reason that war would divert forces 
from the West and increase the instability of the internal 
situation in Germany that is already making itself felt; it 
would also make it difficult to obtain raw materials from 
places involved in insurrection or that are suffering from 
damage to railways, from failure to plant sufficient crops, 
etc., etc. 

The Japanese urge to attack Russia is being held back, 
first, by the danger of the movement and of revolts in 
China, and secondly, there is a certain antagonism on the 
part of America, the latter fearing the strengthening of 
Japan and hoping to obtain raw materials from Russia more 
easily under peaceful conditions. 

It goes without saying that it is quite possible for the 
extreme elements of the war parties in both Germany and 
Japan to gain the upper hand at any moment. There can be 
no guarantee against this until the revolution breaks out in 
Germany. The American bourgeoisie may plot together 
with the Japanese bourgeoisie, or the Japanese with the 
German. It is, therefore, our imperative duty to make the 
most energetic preparations for war. 

As long as there remains even a slight chance of preserv- 
ing peace or of concluding peace with Finland, the Ukraine 
and Turkey, at the cost of certain new annexations or 
losses, we must not take a single step that might aid the 
extreme elements in the war parties of the imperialist 




The primary task in undertaking more energetic military 
training, as in the question of combating famine, is that of 

There cannot be any really serious preparation for war 
unless the food difficulties are overcome, unless the popu- 
lation is properly supplied with bread, unless the strictest 
order is introduced on the railways, unless truly iron dis- 
cipline is established among the masses of the working 
people (and not only at the top). It is in this field that we 
are most backward. 

Guiltiest of all of a complete lack of understanding of 
this truth are the Left Socialist-Revolutionary and anarch- 
ist elements with their screaming about "insurrectionary 
committees" and their howls of "to arms", etc. Such screams 
and howls are the quintessence of stupidity and are nothing 
but pitiful, despicable and disgusting phrase-making; 
it is ridiculous to talk about "insurrection" and "insurrec- 
tionary committees" when Soviet central power is doing 
its utmost to persuade the people to start military training 
and arm themselves, when we have more weapons than we 
can count and distribute, when it is precisely the economic 
ruin and the lack of discipline that prevent us from using 
the weapons available and compel us to lose valuable time 
that could be used for training. 

Intensified military training for a serious war cannot be 
done by means of a sudden impulse, a battle-cry, a militant 
slogan; it requires lengthy, intense, persistent and dis- 
ciplined work on a mass scale. We must deal ruthlessly with 
the Left Socialist-Revolutionary and anarchist elements 
that do not wish to understand this, and must not give them 
an opportunity to infect certain elements of our proletarian 
Communist Party with their hysteria. 


It is essential to wage a ruthless struggle against the 
bourgeoisie, which on account of the above circumstances 
has raised its head during the past few days, and to declare a 
state of emergency, close newspapers, arrest the leaders and 



so on. These measures are as necessary as the military cam- 
paign against the rural bourgeoisie, who are holding back 
grain surpluses and infringing the grain monopoly. There 
will be no salvation either from the counter-revolution or 
from famine without iron discipline on the part of the pro- 

In particular it must be borne in mind that during the 
past few days the bourgeoisie have been making extremely 
skilful and cunning use of panic-spreading as a weapon 
against proletarian power. Some of our comrades, especially 
those who are less resolute in their attitude to the Left 
Socialist-Revolutionary and anarchist revolutionary phrases, 
have allowed themselves to be diverted, have got into a 
panic or have failed to observe the line that divides legiti- 
mate and necessary warning of the coming danger from the 
spreading of panic. 

The basic specific features of the entire present economic 
and political situation in Russia must be kept firmly in 
mind; because of these features our cause cannot be helped 
by outbursts. We must become firmly convinced ourselves 
and try to convince all workers of the truth that only re- 
straint and patient creative work to establish iron proletarian 
discipline, including ruthless measures against hooligans, 
kulaks and disorganising elements, can protect Soviet 
power at this moment, one of the most difficult and dangerous 
periods of transition, unavoidable owing to the delay of 
the revolution in the West. 

Written May 12 or 13, 1918 

First published in 1929 
in Lenin Miscellany XI 

Published according to 
the manuscript 


MAY 14, 1918 

Comrades, permit me to acquaint you with the present 
foreign policy situation. In the past few days our inter- 
national position has in many respects become more compli- 
cated owing to the aggravation of the general situation. 
Because of this aggravation, the provocation, the deliberate 
panic-spreading by the bourgeois press and its echo, the 
socialist press, is again doing its dark and filthy work of 
repeating the Kornilov affair. 

First, I shall draw your attention to the factors determin- 
ing, in the main, the international position of the Soviet 
Republic in order to proceed to the outward legal forms 
determining this position, and, on the basis of this, describe 
again the difficulties which have arisen or, to be more pre- 
cise, define the turning-point at which we have arrived and 
which forms the basis of the worsened political situation. 

Comrades, you know, and your knowledge has been par- 
ticularly reinforced by the experience of the two Russian 
revolutions, that economic interests and the economic 
position of the classes which rule our state lie at the root of 
both our home and foreign policy. These propositions which 
constitute the basis of the Marxist world outlook and have 
been confirmed for us Russian revolutionaries by the great 
experience of both Russian revolutions, must not be forgot- 
ten even for a moment if we are to avoid losing ourselves 



in the thickets, the labyrinth of diplomatic tricks, a laby- 
rinth which at times is artificially created and made more 
intricate by people, classes, parties and groups who 
like to fish in muddy waters, or who are compelled to 
do so. 

We recently experienced, and to a certain extent are 
experiencing now, a situation in which our counter-revolu- 
tionaries — the Constitutional-Democrats and their foremost 
yes-men, the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and Menshe- 
viks — have been attempting to take advantage of the 
increased complexity of the international situation. 

Basically, the position is that the Russian Socialist 
Soviet Republic, due to economic and political causes which 
we have described in the press on more than one occasion, 
and of which you are aware, due to a different rate of 
development, a basis of development different from that of 
the West, still remains a lone island in the stormy sea of 
imperialist robbery. The main economic factor in the West 
is that this imperialist war which has tortured and exhausted 
mankind has given rise to such complicated, such acute, 
such involved conflicts that again and again, at every step, 
the question of war and peace, the solution of the question 
to the advantage of one or other grouping, hangs by a 
thread. We have lived through precisely such a situation 
in the past few days. The contradictions that have arisen 
out of the frenzied struggle between the imperialist powers 
drawn into a war which is the result of the economic condi- 
tions of the development of capitalism over a number of 
decades, have made it impossible for the imperialists them- 
selves to stop this war. 

Owing to these contradictions, it has come about that 
the general alliance of the imperialists of all countries, 
forming the basis of the economic alliance of capitalism, 
an alliance whose natural and inevitable aim is to defend 
capital, which recognises no fatherland, and which has 
proved in the course of many major and important episodes 
in world history that capital places the safeguarding of 
the alliance of the capitalists of all countries against the 
working people above the interests of the fatherland, of 
the people or of what you will — that this alliance is not the 
moving force of politics. 



Of course, as before, this alliance remains the main eco- 
nomic trend of the capitalist system, a trend which must 
ultimately make itself felt with inevitable force. That the 
imperialist war has divided into hostile groups, into hos- 
tile coalitions the imperialist powers which at the present 
moment, one may say, have divided up the whole world 
among themselves, is an exception to this main tendency of 
capitalism. This enmity, this struggle, this death grapple, 
proves that in certain circumstances the alliance of world 
imperialism is impossible. We are witnessing a situation in 
which the stormy waves of imperialist reaction, of the 
imperialist slaughter of nations, are hurling themselves at the 
small island of the socialist Soviet Republic, and seem about 
to sink it any minute, while actually these waves are only 
breaking against each other. 

The basic contradictions between the imperialist powers 
have led to such a merciless struggle that, while recognising 
its hopelessness, neither the one, nor the other group is in 
a position to extricate itself at will from the iron grip of 
this war. The war has brought out two main contradictions, 
which in their turn have determined the socialist Soviet 
Republic's present international position. The first is the 
battle being waged on the Western front between Germany 
and Britain, which has reached an extreme degree of feroc- 
ity. We have heard on more than one occasion represent- 
atives of the two belligerent groups promise and assure 
their own people and other peoples that all that is required 
is one more last effort for the enemy to be subdued, the 
fatherland defended and the interests of civilisation and of 
the war of liberation saved for all time. The longer this 
terrible struggle drags on and the deeper the belligerent 
countries become involved, the further off is the way out of 
this interminable war. And it is the violence of this conflict 
that makes extremely difficult, well-nigh impossible, an 
alliance of the great imperialist powers against the Soviet 
Republic, which in the bare half-year of Its existence has 
won the warm regard and the most whole-hearted sympathy 
of the class-conscious workers of the world. 

The second contradiction determining Russia's inter- 
national position is the rivalry between Japan and America. 
Over several decades the economic development of these 



countries has produced a vast amount of inflammable material 
which makes inevitable a desperate clash between them for 
domination of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding terri- 
tories. The entire diplomatic and economic history of the 
Far East leaves no room for doubt that under capitalist 
conditions it is impossible to avert the imminent conflict 
between Japan and America. This contradiction, temporar- 
ily concealed by the alliance of Japan and America against 
Germany, delays Japanese imperialism's attack on Rus- 
sia, which was prepared for over a long period, which was a 
long time feeling its way, and which to a certain degree was 
started and is being supported by counter-revolutionary 
forces. The campaign which has been launched against the 
Soviet Republic (the landing at Vladivostok and the sup- 
port of the Semyonov bands) is being held up because it 
threatens to turn the hidden conflict between Japan and 
America into open war. It is quite likely, of course, and we 
must not forget that no matter how solid the imperialist 
groupings may appear to be, they can be broken up in a few 
days if the interests of sacred private property, the sacred 
rights of concessions, etc., demand it. It may well be that 
the tiniest spark will suffice to blow up the existing align- 
ment of powers, and then the afore-mentioned contradictions 
will no longer protect us. 

At the moment, however, the situation we have described 
explains why it is possible to preserve our socialist island 
in the middle of stormy seas and also why its position is so 
unstable, and, at times, to the great joy of the bourgeoisie 
and the panic of the petty bourgeoisie, it seems that it may 
be engulfed by the waves at any minute. 

The outer aspect, the external expression of this situa- 
tion is the Brest Treaty on the one hand, and the customs 
and laws with regard to neutral countries on the 

You know that treaties and laws are worth nothing 
but a scrap of paper in the face of international con- 

These words are usually recalled and quoted as an 
example of the cynicism of imperialist foreign policy; the 
cynicism, however, lies not in these words, but in the ruth- 
less, the cruelly and agonisingly ruthless, imperialist 



war, in which all peace treaties and all laws of neutrality 
have been flouted, are flouted, and will be flouted, as long 
as capitalism exists. 

That is why, when we come to the most important ques- 
tion for us, the Brest peace and the likelihood of its viola- 
tion with all the possible consequences for us — if we want 
to stand firmly on our socialist feet and do not want to be 
overthrown by the plots and provocations of the counter- 
revolutionaries, no matter under what socialist labels they 
disguise themselves, we must not forget for a single moment 
the economic principles underlying all peace treaties, 
including that of Brest-Litovsk, the economic principles 
underlying all neutrality, including our own. We must 
not forget, on the one hand, the state of affairs internatio- 
nally, the state of affairs of international imperialism 
in relation to the class which is growing, and which sooner 
or later, perhaps even later than we desire or expect, will 
nevertheless become capitalism's heir and will defeat world 
capitalism. And on the other hand, we must not forget the 
relations between the imperialist countries, the relations 
between the imperialist economic groups. 

Having clarified this situation, I think, comrades, we 
shall not find it difficult to understand the significance of 
those diplomatic particulars and details, at times even 
trifles, which have mainly occupied our attention during 
the past few days, which have been on our minds during the 
past few days. Clearly, the instability of the international 
situation gives rise to panic. This panic emanates from the 
Constitutional-Democrats, the Right Socialist-Revolution- 
aries and Mensheviks, who aid and abet the interests of 
those who want and who strive to sow panic. In no way 
closing our eyes to the full danger and tragedy of the 
situation, and analysing the economic relations on an 
international scale, we must say: yes, the question of war and 
peace hangs by a thread both in the West and in the Far 
East because two trends exist; one, which makes an alliance 
of all the imperialists inevitable; the other, which places 
the imperialists in opposition to each other — two trends, 
neither of which has any firm foundation. No, Japan can- 
not now decide to launch a full-scale attack, although with 
her million-strong army she could quite easily overrun 



obviously weak Russia. I do not know, nor can anyone know, 
when this is likely to take place. 

The form of the ultimatum threatens war against the 
allies and a treaty with Germany, but this position can 
change in a few days. There is always the possibility of it 
changing, because the American bourgeoisie, now at logger- 
heads with Japan, can tomorrow come to terms with her, 
because the Japanese bourgeoisie are just as likely tomorrow 
to come to terms with the German bourgeoisie. Their basic 
interests are the same: the division of the world between 
themselves, the interests of the landowners, of capital, 
the safeguarding (as they say) of their national self- 
respect and their national interests. This language is suffi- 
ciently familiar to those who have either the misfortune or 
the habit — I don't know which — of reading newspapers like 
those of the Socialist-Revolutionaries. And when national 
self-respect begins to be mentioned frequently we all know, 
we know very well from the experience of 1914, what facts 
of imperialist robbery this is prompted by. In view of 
this relationship it is clear why the situation in the Far 
East is unstable. One thing must be said: we must have a 
clear understanding of these contradictions of capitalist 
interests, we must appreciate that the stability of the Soviet 
Republic is growing with every week, every month that 
passes, and that sympathy towards it among the working and 
exploited people of the world is growing at the same time. 

And, at the same time, any day, any moment we must be 
prepared for and expect changes in international politics in 
favour of the policies of the extremist war parties. 

The position of the German coalition is clear to us. At 
the present moment the majority of the German bourgeois 
parties stand for observing the Brest peace, but, of course, 
are very glad to "improve" on it and to receive a few more 
annexations at Russia's expense. What makes them take this 
stand? The political and military considerations of German 
national interests — as they express it — of imperialist inter- 
ests, make them prefer peace in the East, so that their 
hands may be free in the West, where German imperialism 
has promised an immediate victory on many occasions, and 
where every week or every month proves that this victory, 
the more the partial successes gained, recedes still further 



into the distance. On the other hand, there is a war party 
which, during discussions on the Brest Treaty, showed its 
hand on a number of occasions, a party which naturally 
exists in all imperialist countries, a war party which says 
to itself: force must be used immediately, irrespective of 
possible consequences. These are the voices of the extrem- 
ist war party. It has been known in German history since 
the time when overwhelming military victories became a 
feature history. It has been known since 1866, for instance, 
when the extremist war party of Germany achieved victory 
over Austria and turned this victory into a complete 
rout. All these clashes, all these conflicts are inevitable and 
lead to a situation where matters now hang by a thread, 
where, on the one hand, the bourgeois imperialist majority 
of the German parliament, the German propertied classes, 
the German capitalists prefer to stand by the Brest Treaty, 
while having, I repeat, no hesitation about improving on 
it. And on the other hand, any day, any moment we must 
be prepared for and expect changes in politics in the 
interests of the extremist war party. 

This explains the instability of the international situa- 
tion; this explains how easy it is in the circumstances to 
put the Party in one situation or another; this shows what 
prudence, caution, self-control and presence of mind is 
demanded of the Soviet government if it is to define its 
task clearly. Let the Russian bourgeoisie rush from a 
French to a German orientation. They like doing this. They 
have in several areas seen that German support is an excel- 
lent guarantee against the peasants who are taking the land, 
and against the workers who are building the foundations 
of socialism. In the quite recent past, and over a long pe- 
riod, over a number of years they branded as traitors those 
who condemned the imperialist war and opened people's 
eyes to its real nature, but now they are all prepared in a 
few weeks to change their political beliefs and to go over from 
an alliance with the British robbers to an alliance with the 
German robbers against Soviet power. Let the bourgeoisie 
of all shades, from the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and 
Mensheviks to the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, rush 
this way and that. It suits their nature. Let them spread 
panic, for they are themselves in a panic. Let them rush to 



and fro, unable to do otherwise, vacillating between the 
different orientations and between the absurd phrases that 
fail to take into consideration the fact that to deepen the 
effect of the revolution, when it has attained great pro- 
portions, one has to experience the most diverse groupings 
and transitions from one stage to another. We Russian 
revolutionaries have had the good fortune in the twentieth 
century to pass through two revolutions, each of which 
gave us a lot of experience, which has also stamped its 
impression on the lives of the people, of how a deep-going 
and effective revolutionary movement is prepared; how the 
different classes in this movement behave; by what difficult 
and exhausting path, sometimes by a long evolution, the 
maturity of new classes comes about. 

Remember how hard it was for the Soviets, created by the 
spontaneous outburst in 1905, how hard it was for them in 
1917 to take up the fight again, and how hard later, when 
they had to go through all the suffering of compromise with 
the bourgeoisie and with the hidden, most rabid enemies of 
the working class, who talked of the defence of the revolu- 
tion, of the Red Flag, and committed the greatest of crimes 
in June 1917 — now, when the majority of the working class 
supports us, remember what it cost after the great 1905 
Revolution to emerge with Soviets of the working and 
peasant classes. Remember all this, and think of the mass 
scale on which the struggle against international imperial- 
ism is developing, think how difficult the transition to 
this situation is, and what the Russian Republic had to 
undergo when it found itself ahead of all the other contin- 
gents of the socialist army. 

I know that there are, of course, wiseacres with a high 
opinion of themselves and even calling themselves social- 
ists, who assert that power should not have been taken until 
the revolution broke out in all countries. They do not 
realise that in saying this they are deserting the revolu- 
tion and going over to the side of the bourgeoisie. To wait 
until the working classes carry out a revolution on an inter- 
national scale means that everyone will remain suspended in 
mid-air. This is senseless. Everyone knows the difficul- 
ties of a revolution. It may begin with brilliant success 
in one country and then go through agonising periods, since 



final victory is only possible on a world scale, and only by 
the joint efforts of the workers of all countries. Our task 
consists in being restrained and prudent, we must manoeu- 
vre and retreat until we receive reinforcements. A change- 
over to these tactics is inevitable, no matter how much they 
are mocked by so-called revolutionaries with no idea of 
what revolution means. 

Having dealt with the general questions I now want to 
examine the causes of the recent alarm and panic which 
have again enabled the counter-revolutionaries to start 
activities intended to undermine Soviet power. 

I have already mentioned that the outward legal form 
and outer aspect of all international relations of the 
Soviet Socialist Republic are, on the one hand, the Brest- 
Litovsk Treaty, and, on the other, the general law and 
custom defining the status of a neutral country among 
other, belligerent countries; this status accounts for the 
recent difficulties. The conclusion of peace with Finland, 
the Ukraine and Turkey should have been the natural con- 
sequence of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, yet we are still at 
war with these countries, and this is not due to our internal 
development, but to the influence of the ruling classes of 
these countries. In these conditions the only temporary way 
out lay in the temporary breathing-space provided by the 
Brest-Litovsk Treaty, the breathing-space which provoked 
so many futile and unnecessary words about its being impos- 
sible but which nevertheless turned out to be possible and 
in two months brought results, made itself felt on the major- 
ity of Russian soldiers, enabled them to return home and 
see how things were going, to take advantage of the revolu- 
tion's gains, to work the land, to look around and draw new 
strength for the fresh sacrifices ahead. 

Naturally, this temporary breathing-space appeared to 
be coming to an end when the situation worsened in Fin- 
land, the Ukraine and Turkey, when, instead of peace, we 
merely obtained a postponement of that selfsame acute 
economic problem: war or peace? And now are we to go to 
war once again, despite all the peaceful intentions of Soviet 
power and its absolute determination to sacrifice so-called 
Great Power status, i.e., the right to conclude secret 
treaties, to conceal them from the people with the assistance 



of the Chernovs, Tseretelis and Kerenskys, to sign secret 
predatory treaties and conduct an imperialist, predatory 
war? Indeed, instead of peace, all that we have obtained is 
a brief postponement of that selfsame pressing question 
of war or peace. 

Here is the result of this situation, and you again clearly 
see where its final outcome lies — namely, in the question 
of what the results will be of the wavering among the two 
hostile groups of imperialist countries — the American 
conflict in the Far East, and the German-British conflict 
in Western Europe. It is clear how these contradictions 
have intensified over the conquest of the Ukraine, over 
the situation which the German imperialists, particularly 
their main war party, frequently viewed so optimistically, 
looked upon as so easy, and which caused precisely this 
extremist German war party such fantastic difficulties. 
It was this situation which temporarily raised the hopes of 
the Russian Constitutional-Democrats, Mensheviks and 
Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, who have fallen in love 
with what Skoropadsky is bringing the Ukraine, and who 
now hope that this will also be easily achieved in Russia. 
These gentlemen will be mistaken; their hopes will turn to 
dust because ... (stormy applause), because, I say, that same 
main war party in Germany, which is too accustomed to rely 
on the power of the sword, even this party in these particular 
circumstances has not been supported by the majority 
of the imperialists, those bourgeois imperialist circles who 
have seen unprecedented difficulties in the conquest of the 
Ukraine, in the struggle to subjugate a whole people, in 
the forced necessity of resorting to a terrible coup d'etat. 

This main war party created unprecedented difficulties 
in Germany when, having promised its people and the 
workers supreme victories on the Western Front, this extrem- 
ist war party was forced to recognise that it was faced with 
new, unbelievable economic and political difficulties, 
with having to divert military forces to tasks which also at 
first seemed easy, and also with having to conclude a treaty 
with the Ukrainian Mensheviks and the Right Socialist- 
Revolutionaries, who were the signatories to the peace treaty. 

The extremist war party in Germany reasoned: we shall 
send many troops and obtain grain, but then it became neces- 



sary to engineer a coup d'etat. That turned out to be easy, 
because the Ukrainian Mensheviks readily supported this 
move. But it then turned out that this coup d'etat created 
fresh and gigantic difficulties, because the grain and raw 
materials, without which Germany cannot exist, had to be 
fought for at every step, and their appropriation by military 
force in an occupied country involved too great an effort 
and too many sacrifices. 

Such is the situation that has arisen in the Ukraine and 
that should have lent wings to the hopes of the Russian 
counter-revolution. It is clear that in this struggle, Rus- 
sia, which has been unable to rebuild her army, has suf- 
fered and is suffering further losses. The peace talks have 
led to new, onerous conditions, to new open and concealed 
indemnities. Under what decree the Ukraine's frontiers are 
to be determined is not clear. The Rada, 144 which signed 
the decree, has been removed. A landowner-hetman has been 
put in its place. Because of this uncertainty a whole number 
of problems have emerged which prove that the questions of 
war and peace remain as before. The partial armistice exist- 
ing between the Russian and German troops in no way pre- 
determines the general situation. The question hangs in 
the air. The same is true of Georgia, where we have a pro- 
tracted counter-revolutionary struggle by the government of 
the Caucasian Mensheviks, a protracted struggle by coun- 
ter-revolutionaries who call themselves Social-Democrats. 
And when the victory of Soviet power and the working 
people, having embraced the whole of Russia, has begun to 
draw in the non-Russian outlying areas, when it has become 
quite obvious and beyond all doubt that the victory of 
Soviet power, as has been admitted by the counter-revolu- 
tionary representatives of the Don Cossacks, cannot be 
delayed, when the Menshevik government in the Caucasus has 
begun to waver the government of Gegechkori and Jor- 
dania, who realised this too late and started to talk about 
finding a common language with the Bolsheviks when 
Tsereteli, aided by the Turkish troops, has shown his hand 
by advancing against the Bolsheviks — they will reap the 
same harvest as the Rada. (Applause.) 

Remember, however, that if these bargainers of the 
Caucasian Rada receive the support of the German troops, 



as did the Ukrainian Rada, then there will no doubt be 
fresh difficulties for the Russian Soviet Republic, a new 
inevitability of war, new dangers and now uncertainties. 
There are people who refer to this uncertainty, to the strain 
of an uncertain situation (in fact such an uncertain situation 
is sometimes worse than any clearly defined one), and say 
that the uncertainty can be easily removed — you only have 
to demand openly that the Germans observe the Brest 

I have heard such naive people, who consider themselves 
to be on the left, but who in fact only reflect the narrow- 
mindedness of our petty bourgeoisie....* 

They forget that you have first to be victorious before 
you can make demands. If you are not victorious the enemy 
can delay his reply or even make no reply at all to your 
demands. That is the law of imperialist war. 

You don't like it. Then be able to defend your homeland. 
The worker has every right to defend his homeland for 
the sake of socialism, for the sake of the working class. 

I shall only add that this uncertain situation on the 
Caucasian border was a result of the quite unpardonable 
vacillation of the Gegechkori government which at first an- 
nounced that it did not recognise the Brest peace, and then 
declared its independence without informing us of what ter- 
ritory this independence covered. We have sent innumerable 
radio-telegrams saying to them, please inform us of the 
territory you lay claim to. You have the right to claim 
independence, but since you speak of independence, you are 
bound to say what territory you are representing. That was 
a week ago. Countless radio-telegrams have been dispatched, 
but not a single reply has been received. German imperial- 
ism is taking advantage of this. This has made it possible 
for Germany, and Turkey, as a satellite state, to push far- 
ther and farther forward, making no replies, ignoring every- 
thing, stating: we shall take whatever we can, we are not 
infringing the Brest peace, because the Transcaucasian army 
does not recognise it, because the Caucasus is independent. 

Of whom is the Gegechkori government independent? It 
is independent of the Soviet Republic, but it is dependent, 

*A phrase that is not clearly written in the verbatim report has 
been omitted.— Ed. 



just a little, on German imperialism, and quite naturally 
so. (Applause.) 

That is the situation which has developed, comrades — 
an acute aggravation of relations in the last few days — it 
is a situation which has once again, and fairly obviously, 
confirmed the correctness of the tactics which the vast 
majority of our Party, the Russian Communist Party of Bol- 
sheviks, has employed and firmly insisted on during recent 

We possess great revolutionary experience, which has 
taught us that it is essential to employ the tactics of mer- 
ciless attack when objective conditions permit, when the 
experience of compromising has shown that the people's 
indignation has been aroused, and that attack will express 
this change. But we have to resort to temporising tactics, 
to a slow gathering of forces when objective circumstances 
do not favour a call for a general merciless repulse. 

Any person who does not shut his eyes to the facts, who 
is not blind, knows that we are merely repeating what 
we have said earlier, and what we have always said: that 
we do not forget the weakness of the Russian working class 
compared to other contingents of the international pro- 
letariat. It was not our own will, but historical circum- 
stances, the legacy of the tsarist regime, the flabbiness 
of the Russian bourgeoisie, that caused this contingent to 
march ahead of the other contingents of the international 
proletariat; it was not because we desired it, but because 
circumstances demanded it. We must remain at our post 
until the arrival of our ally, the international proletariat, 
which will arrive and will inevitably arrive, but which is 
approaching at an immeasurably slower pace than we expect 
or wish. If we see that as a result of objective conditions 
the international proletariat moves too slowly, we must 
nevertheless stick to our tactics of temporising and utilis- 
ing the conflicts and contradictions between the imperial- 
ists, of slowly accumulating strength; the tactics of pre- 
serving this island of Soviet power in the stormy imperial- 
ist sea, maintaining this island which now already attracts 
the gaze of the working people of all countries. That is 
why we tell ourselves that, if the extremist war party can 
at any moment defeat any imperialist coalition and build 



a new unexpected imperialist coalition against us, we at 
any rate will not make it any easier for them. And if they 
come against us — yes, we are now defencists — we shall do 
everything in our power, everything within the power of 
diplomatic tactics, we shall do everything to delay that 
moment, everything to make the brief and unstable respite, 
given us in March, last longer, for we are firmly convinced 
that behind us are tens of millions of workers and peasants 
who know that with every week and, even more so, with every 
month of this respite they gain new strength, they are con- 
solidating Soviet power, making it firm and stable. They 
know that they are introducing a new spirit, and that after 
the attrition and weariness of this exhausting reactionary 
war, they will create firmness and readiness for the last and 
decisive battle should external forces attack the Socialist 
Soviet Republic. 

We have been defencists since October 25, 1917; we have 
won the right to defend our native land. It is not secret 
treaties that we are defending, we have annulled and 
exposed them to the whole world. We are defending our coun- 
try against the imperialists. We are defending and we shall 
win. It is not the Great Power status of Russia that we are 
defending — of that nothing is left but Russia proper — nor 
is it national interests, for we assert that the interests 
of socialism, of world socialism are higher than national 
interests, higher than the interests of the state. We are 
defenders of the socialist fatherland. 

This is not achieved by issuing declarations, but only by 
overthrowing the bourgeoisie in one's own country, by a 
ruthless war to the death begun in one's own country; and 
we know that we shall win this war. Ours is a small island 
in the war that engulfs the imperialist world, but on this 
small island we have shown and proved to all what the work- 
ing class can do. Everyone knows this and has acknowledged 
it. We have proved that we possess the right to defend 
our homeland. We are defencists and look upon our task 
with all the seriousness taught us by the four years of war, 
with all the seriousness and caution understood by every 
worker and peasant who has met a soldier and has learned 
what that soldier has lived through in these four years of 
war — the caution which may not be understood, which may 



be sneered at and regarded frivolously only by people who 
are revolutionaries in word but not in deed. It is just because 
we do support the defence of the fatherland that we tell 
ourselves: a firm and strong army and a strong rear are 
needed for the defence, and in order to have a firm and 
strong army we must in the first place ensure that the food 
supplies are on a sound basis. For this the dictatorship of 
the proletariat must be expressed not only centrally — that 
is the first step and only the first step — but there must be 
dictatorship throughout the whole of Russia — that is the 
second step and only the second step, which we have not 
yet carried out sufficiently. Proletarian discipline is essen- 
tial and necessary for us; real proletarian dictatorship, 
when the firm and iron rule of class-conscious workers is 
felt in every remote corner of our country, when not a single 
kulak, not a single rich man, not a single opponent of the 
grain monopoly remains unpunished, but is found and pun- 
ished by the iron hand of the disciplined dictators of the 
working class, the proletarian dictators. (Applause.) 

We say to ourselves: our attitude to defence of the 
fatherland is a cautious one; it is our duty to do everything 
that our diplomacy can do to delay the moment of war, 
to extend the respite period; we promise the workers and 
peasants to do all we can for peace. This we shall do. And 
bourgeois gentlemen and their hirelings, who think that just 
as in the Ukraine, where a coup was brought about so easily, 
so in Russia it may be possible to give birth to new Skoro- 
padskys, should not forget that the war party in Germany 
found it very difficult to effect a coup in the Ukraine, and 
will meet with plenty of opposition in Soviet Russia. Every- 
thing goes to prove this; Soviet power has pursued this line 
and has made every sacrifice to consolidate the position 
of the working people. 

The situation with regard to peace with Finland may be 
summed up in the words: Fort Ino and Murmansk. Fort 
Ino, which defends Petrograd, lies geographically within 
the Finnish state. In concluding peace with the workers' 
government of Finland we, the representatives of socialist 
Russia, recognised Finland's absolute right to the whole 
territory, but it was mutually agreed by both governments 
that Fort Ino should remain in Russia's hands "for the 



defence of the joint interests of the Socialist Republics", 
as stated in the treaty that was concluded. 145 It is natural 
that our troops should conclude this peace in Finland, should 
sign these terms. It is natural that bourgeois and counter- 
revolutionary Finland was bound to raise a hue and cry 
against this. It is natural that the reactionary and counter- 
revolutionary Finnish bourgeoisie should lay claim to 
this stronghold. It is natural that, because of this, the 
issue should become acute on a number of occasions and 
should still remain acute. Matters hang by a thread. It is 
natural that the question of Murmansk, to which the Anglo- 
French have laid claim, should give rise to even greater 
aggravation, because they have spent tens of millions on 
the port's construction in order to safeguard their mili- 
tary rear in their imperialist war against Germany. Their 
respect for neutrality is so wonderful that they make use 
of everything that is left unguarded. Furthermore, suffi- 
cient excuse for their grabbing is their possession of a battle- 
ship, while we have nothing with which to chase it away. 
It is natural that all this should have aggravated the situa- 
tion. There is an outer aspect, a legal expression resulting 
from the international position of the Soviet Republic, 
which presumes that it is impossible for armed forces of 
any belligerent state to set foot on neutral territory with- 
out being disarmed. The British landed their military forces 
at Murmansk, and we were unable to prevent this by armed 
force. Consequently, we are presented with demands 
almost in the nature of an ultimatum: if you cannot protect 
your neutrality, we shall wage war on your territory. 

A worker-peasant army, however, has now been formed, 
it has rallied in the uyezds and gubernias the peasants who 
have returned to their land, land wrested from the land- 
owners; they now have something to defend. An army has 
been formed which has started to build Soviet power, and 
which will become the vanguard if an invasion against 
Russia breaks out; we shall rise as one man to meet the 

My time is up, and I want to conclude by reading a tele- 
gram received by radio from Comrade Joffe, Soviet Ambas- 
sador in Berlin. This telegram will show you that, on 
the one hand, you have confirmation from our Ambassador 



of whether my analysis of the international situation is cor- 
rect and, on the other hand, that the foreign policy of 
our Soviet Republic is a responsible one — it is a policy 
of preparation for defence of our country, a steadfast policy, 
not allowing a single step to be taken that would aid the 
extremist parties of the imperialist powers in the East 
and West. This is a responsible policy with no illusions. 
There always remains the possibility that any day military 
forces may be thrown against us and we, the workers and 
peasants, assure ourselves and the whole world, and shall 
be able to prove, that we shall rise to a man to defend the 
Soviet Republic. I hope, therefore, that the reading of 
this telegram will serve as an appropriate conclusion to 
my speech and will show us the spirit in which the repre- 
sentatives of the Soviet Republic work abroad in the inter- 
ests of the Soviets, of all Soviet institutions and the Soviet 

"The latest radio-telegrams received today report that the German 
War Prisoners' Commission is leaving on Friday, May 10. We have 
already received a Note from the German Government proposing the 
setting up of a special commission to consider all legal questions in 
regard to our possessions in the Ukraine and in Finland. I have agreed 
to such a commission and have asked you to send the appropriate 
military and legal representatives. Today I had a talk about further 
advances, demands for clearing Fort Ino, and the attitude of the Rus- 
sians to Germany. Here is the reply: The German High Command states 
that there will be no further advances; Germany's role in the Ukraine 
and Finland has ended. Germany is willing to assist our peace talks with 
Kiev and Helsingfors and is entering into negotiations with the govern- 
ments concerned. As regards Fort Ino, in connection with the Finnish 
Peace talks: according to the treaty, the forts should be destroyed. 
Germany considers that when defining the frontiers the agreement with 
the Reds can be accepted; the Whites have not yet replied. The Ger- 
man Government declares officially: Germany abides firmly by the 
Brest Treaty, she wants peaceful relations with us, she has no aggres- 
sive plans and has no intention of attacking us in any way. It is prom- 
ised that, in accordance with my request, Russian citizens in Germany 
will be treated on a par with other neutrals." 

Newspaper report published 
in Pravda Nos. 93 and 94, 

May 15 and 16, 1918; 
in Izvestia VTsIK No. 95 
May 15, 1918 

Published according to the text of 
the book: Minutes of the Sessions 
of the All-Russia Central Executive 
Committee, 4th Convocation. Verba- 
tim Report, Moscow, 1920, collated 
with the text of the newspaper 
Petrogradskaya Pravda No. 101 
May 19, 1918 


OF THE R.C.P.(B.) 146 
MAY 15, 1918 


Lenin dealt first with the views of the "Lefts" on foreign 
policy and pointed out the tremendous propaganda value 
of the Brest negotiations, for the Western proletariat had 
been able to learn a lot, and to understand who the 
Bolsheviks were, and what the situation here was after the 
revolution, etc. Salvation now lay not in an open rupture 
of the Brest Treaty but in the ability to manoeuvre in the 
complex international situations that arose from the con- 
flicting interests of the various imperialist countries. One 
had to take into account the relations between Japan and 
America, Germany and Britain, the dissension in the German 
capitalist and war parties, and so on. The need in internal 
politics was for proletarian discipline, a struggle against 
the kulaks in the villages, the campaign for grain, a com- 
plete food dictatorship and dictatorship of the working class. 
Replying to the "Lefts" on the question of state capitalism, 
Lenin explained that this held no terrors for us because in 
the agonising period of transition from capitalism to social- 
ism that we had been going through the main thing was to 
save industry, and production could be got going and an 
exact account kept of production and consumption only by 
means of the large-scale organisation that was possible at 
present only under state capitalism. An essential condition 
for this was workers' control. As an example Lenin mentioned 
the tanners, their sound organisation, and the workers' 
control in private enterprises. 

Pravda No. 95, May 17, 1918 

Published according to 
the Pravda text 


MAY 18, 1918 

The country's financial situation is critical. The problem 
of transforming the country on socialist lines offers many 
difficulties that at times appear insurmountable, but no 
matter how arduous the work that at every step meets with 
the resistance of the petty-bourgeoisie, the profiteers and 
propertied classes, I think we shall have to carry it out. 

You experienced, practical people know better than any- 
body what difficulties have to be overcome in advancing 
from general assumptions and decrees to daily practice. We 
have tremendous work ahead of us, because the propertied 
classes will put up a desperate resistance, but the more 
difficult the task, the greater the benefits when we have 
conquered the bourgeoisie and subordinated them to the con- 
trol of the Soviet authorities. Our tasks are such that it 
is worth while working and fighting the last decisive battle 
against the bourgeoisie, for the success of the socialist re- 
form of the country depends on the fulfilment of those tasks. 

The basic tasks presented by the Soviet government in 
the field of finance must be immediately put into effect, 
and this meeting we are holding with you will help towards 
ensuring that our planned reforms do not remain mere 

We must effect sound financial reforms at all costs, and we 
must remember that any radical reforms will be doomed 
to failure unless our financial policy is successful. 

In the name of the Council of People's Commissars I 
draw your attention to the tasks that have come to the fore 



at a large number of meetings and ask you to work out the 
details of their practical application. The tasks are the 


The centralisation of finances and the concentration of our 
forces are essential; unless these principles are applied in 
practice we shall be unable to carry out the economic re- 
forms that will provide every citizen with enough to eat and 
the possibility of satisfying his cultural needs. 

The need for centralisation is now reaching the con- 
sciousness of the masses; this change is taking place slowly 
and for this reason it will be more extensive and more pro- 
found; an urge towards decentralisation is to be observed, 
but it is a disease of the transitional period, a disease due 
to growth, and is quite natural because the centralism 
of the tsar and the bourgeoisie engendered hatred of and 
disgust at all centralised authority among the masses. 

I regard centralism as the means of providing a subsist- 
ence minimum for the working people. I am in favour of 
the broadest autonomy for local Soviet organisations but at 
the same time I believe that if our work of consciously 
transforming the country is to be fruitful, there must be a 
single, strictly defined financial policy, and that instruc- 
tions must be carried out from top to bottom. 

From you we expect a decree on the centralisation of 
the country's finances. 


The second task confronting us is the correct organisa- 
tion of a progressive income and property tax. You know 
that all socialists are against indirect taxation because 
the only correct tax from the socialist point of view is the 
progressive income and property tax. I will not conceal 
the fact that we shall meet with tremendous difficulty in 
introducing this tax — the propertied classes will put up a 
desperate resistance. 

The bourgeoisie are today evading taxation by bribery 
and through their connections; we must close all loopholes. 
We have many plans in this sphere and have cleared the 


ground on which to build the foundation, but the actual 
foundation of that building has not yet been built. The time 
for this has now come. 

Decrees alone will be insufficient to put the income 
tax into effect; practical methods and experience will be 

We assume that we shall have to go over to the monthly 
collection of the income tax. The section of the population 
receiving its income from the state-treasury is increasing, 
and measures must be taken to collect the income tax from 
these people by stopping it out of their wages. 

All income and earnings, without exception, must be 
subject to income tax; the work of the printing press that 
has so far been practised may be justified as a temporary 
measure, but it must give place to a progressive income and 
property tax that is collected at very frequent intervals. 

I should like to ask you to work out this measure in detail 
and draw up practical and precise plans that can be incor- 
porated in decrees and instructions in the shortest time. 

On the question of indemnities, Lenin said: 

I am not against indemnities in general; the proletariat 
could not destroy the bourgeoisie without resorting to 
indemnities; it was a correct measure in the period of 
transition, but now that period is past and the taxation 
of the propertied classes must be replaced by a single, 
centralised state tax. 

There is no doubt that the bourgeoisie will try with every 
means in their power to evade our laws and indulge in 
petty frauds. We shall struggle against that and in the end 
we shall defeat what is left of the bourgeoisie. 


The third aim of our financial policy is the introduction 
of labour conscription and the registration of the proper- 
tied classes. 

The old capitalism, based on free competition, has been 
completely killed by the war — it has given way to state, 
monopolised capitalism. Because of the war, the advanced 
countries of Western Europe, Britain and Germany, have 
introduced strict accounting for, and control of, all 



production; they have introduced labour conscription for 
the propertyless classes but have left many loopholes 
open for the bourgeoisie. We must apply the experience of 
these countries, but must introduce labour conscription 
primarily for the propertied classes who have grown rich 
on the war, and not for the poor people who have already 
made more than enough sacrifices on the altar of war. 

The time has come to introduce labour taxation — 
budget books primarily for the bourgeoisie so that it will 
be possible to see what amount of work each of them devotes 
to the country. Control must be maintained by the local 
Soviets. This measure is at present quite superfluous as 
far as the poor are concerned since they already have to 
work enough; furthermore, the trade unions will adopt all 
the necessary measures to increase labour productivity and 
introduce labour discipline. 

The registration of all propertied people and a law compel- 
ling rich people to have work, taxation and budget 
books — this is something we have to settle immediately. It 
must be worked out practically and concretely and is a 
measure that will enable us to place the burden of taxation 
on the rich, which is only just. 


The fourth task of the moment is the substitution of new 
currency for the old. Money, banknotes — everything that 
is called money today — these titles to social well-being, 
have a disruptive effect and are dangerous in so far as the 
bourgeoisie, by hoarding these banknotes, retain economic 

To reduce this effect we must undertake the strict reg- 
istration of all banknotes in circulation in order to change 
all old currency for new. It is beyond all doubt that in 
putting this measure into effect we shall come up against 
terrific economic and political difficulties; the preparatory 
work must be thorough — several thousand millions in the 
new money must be ready; in every volost, in every block 
of every large town, we must have savings banks, but these 
difficulties will not make us hesitate. We shall announce a 
very short period in which everyone must declare the amount 


of money he possesses and obtain new currency for it; if 
the sum is a small one he will get ruble for ruble; if it is 
above the established limit he will get only part of it. This 
is a measure that will undoubtedly meet with counteraction, 
not only on the part of the bourgeoisie, but also on the part 
of the kulaks in the countryside who have been growing rich 
on the war and burying thousands of banknotes in bottles. 
We shall come face to face with the class enemy. It will be 
an arduous but rewarding struggle. Among us there is no 
doubt as to whether we have to take upon ourselves the full 
burden of this struggle, since it is necessary and inevi- 
table. Tremendous preparatory work will be necessary to 
effect this measure; we must draw up a type of declaratory 
leaflet, we must develop propaganda in the localities, fix a 
time for the exchange of old money for new, etc. We shall, 
however, do it. It will be the last decisive battle with the 
bourgeoisie and will enable us to pay temporary tribute 
to foreign capital — until the hour of the social revolution 
strikes in the West — and carry out the necessary reforms 
in the country. 

In conclusion Lenin, speaking in the name of the Council 
of People's Commissars, wished the Congress success in its 
work. (Lenin's speech was interrupted more than once by 
enthusiastic applause.) 

Newspaper report published 
in Izvestia VTsIK No. 99, 
May 19, 1918 

Published according to 
the text of the book: 
Report on the Work of the First 
All-Russia Congress of Repre- 
sentatives of the Financial De- 
partments of Regional, Gubernia, 
and Uyezd Soviets, Moscow, 1918 


MAY 18, 1918 

Having heard the statement made by the comrades elect- 
ed as the workers' delegation at the conference of represent- 
atives of large metalworks, and bearing in mind the reso- 
lution adopted by the conference, I am able to say that in 
my opinion the Council of People's Commissars will 
certainly be unanimously in favour of immediate national- 
isation if the conference exerts every effort to secure planned 
and systematic organisation of work and increased 

Hence, it is desirable that the conference: 1) Should 
immediately elect a Provisional Council to prepare for the 
amalgamation of the works; 2) Should authorise the Central 
Committee of the Metalworkers' Union, in agreement with 
the Supreme Economic Council, to change the form 
of and to add members to this Provisional Council for 
the purpose of transforming it into a Management Board 
of a single union (or amalgamation) of all the nationalised 
works; 3) Should approve, or by means of a resolution le- 
galise, the factory regulations on the model of the Bryansk 
regulations, 149 for the purpose of creating strict labour 
discipline; 4) Should nominate candidates from among 
specialists, engineers and organisers of large-scale produc- 
tion, for the purpose of participating in the management, 
or authorise the Supreme Economic Council to seek 
for and appoint such; 5) It is desirable that workers from 
the best organised works, or those having most experience 
in managing large-scale production, shall be sent by the 



Provisional Council or by the Central Committee of the 
Metalworkers' Union) to assist in organising affairs proper- 
ly at the less successful works; 6) By keeping the strictest 
account and control of all materials with reference to the 
productivity of labour, we must achieve, and we can achieve, 
enormous economies in raw materials and labour. 

I think that if the conference and the bodies it sets up 
work energetically, it will be possible for the Council of 
People's Commissars to pass the nationalisation decree 
within the next few days. 

Izvestia VTsIK No. 99, 
May 19, 1918 

Published according to 
the Izvestia text 


MAY 21, 1918 

The Soviet system can be upheld, the victory of the toil- 
ers and exploited over the landowners and capitalists can 
be upheld and consolidated only by the stern, iron rule of 
the class-conscious workers. Only such a system can attract 
and rally around it all the toiling people, all the poor. 

Comrades, workers, remember that the revolution is in a 
critical situation! Remember that you alone can save the 
revolution, nobody else can. 

What we need is tens of thousands of picked, politically 
advanced workers, loyal to the cause of socialism, incapable 
of succumbing to bribery and the temptations of pilfering, 
and capable of creating an iron force against the kulaks, 
profiteers, racketeers, bribe-takers and disorganisers. 

That is what we urgently and insistently need. 

Failing that, famine, unemployment and the destruction 
of the revolution are inevitable. 

The strength of the workers and their salvation lie in 
organisation. Everybody knows that. Today what we need is 
a special kind of organisation of the workers, the organisa- 
tion of the iron rule of the workers in order to vanquish the 
bourgeoisie. Comrades, workers, the cause of the revolution, 
the salvation of the revolution, is in your hands! 

Time is short: an intolerably difficult May will be fol- 
lowed by an even more difficult June and July, and perhaps 
even part of August. 

Petrogradskaya Pravda No. 103 
May 22, 1918 

Published according to 
the manuscript 




Comrades, the other day your delegate, a Party comrade, 
a worker in the Putilov Works, called on me. This comrade 
drew a detailed and extremely harrowing picture of the 
famine in Petrograd. We all know that the food situation 
is just as acute in many of the industrial gubernias, that 
famine is knocking just as cruelly at the door of the workers 
and the poor generally. 

And side by side with this we observe an orgy of profiteer- 
ing in grain and other food products. The famine is not due 
to the fact that there is no grain in Russia, but to the fact 
that the bourgeoisie and the rich generally are putting up a 
last decisive fight against the rule of the toilers, against 
the state of the workers, against Soviet power, on this most 
important and acute of issues, the issue of bread. The bour- 
geoisie and the rich generally, including the rural rich, the 
kulaks, are thwarting the grain monopoly; they are disrupt- 
ing the distribution of grain undertaken by the state for 
the purpose and in the interests of supplying bread to the 
whole of the population, and in the first place to the workers, 
the toilers, the needy. The bourgeoisie are disrupting the 
fixed prices, they are profiteering in grain, they are making a 
hundred, two hundred and more rubles' profit on every pood 
of grain; they are disrupting the grain monopoly and the 
proper distribution of grain by resorting to bribery and cor- 
ruption and by deliberately supporting everything tending 
to destroy the power of the workers, which is endeavouring 
to put into effect the prime, basic and root principle of 
socialism: "He who does not work, neither shall he eat." 



"He who does not work, neither shall he eat" — every 
toiler understands that. Every worker, every poor and even 
middle peasant, everybody who has suffered need in his 
lifetime, everybody who has ever lived by his own labour, 
is in agreement with this. Nine-tenths of the population 
of Russia are in agreement with this truth. In this simple, 
elementary and perfectly obvious truth lies the basis of 
socialism, the indefeasible source of it's strength, the inde- 
structible pledge of its final victory. 

But the whole point is that it is one thing to subscribe 
to this truth, to swear one's allegiance to it, to give it 
verbal recognition, but it is quite different to be able to 
put it into effect. When hundreds of thousands and millions 
of people are suffering the pangs of hunger (in Petrograd, 
in the non-agricultural gubernias, and in Moscow) in a 
country where millions upon millions of poods of grain 
are being concealed by the rich, the kulaks, and the 
profiteers — in a country which calls itself a socialist Soviet 
Republic — there is something to which every conscious 
worker and peasant must give serious and profound thought. 

"He who does not work, neither shall he eat" — how is 
this to be put into effect? It is as clear as daylight that in 
order to put it into effect we require, first, a state grain 
monopoly, i.e., the absolute prohibition of all private trade 
in grain, the compulsory delivery of all surplus grain to 
the state at a fixed price, the absolute prohibition of all 
hoarding and concealment of surplus grain, no matter by 
whom. Secondly, we require the strictest registration of 
all grain surpluses, faultless organisation of the transpor- 
tation of grain from places of abundance to places of short- 
age, and the building up of reserves for consumption, for 
processing, and for seed. Thirdly, we require a just and 
proper distribution of bread, controlled by the workers' 
state, the proletarian state, among all the citizens of the 
state, a distribution which will permit of no privileges and 
advantages for the rich. 

One has only to reflect ever so slightly on these conditions 
for coping with the famine to see the abysmal stupidity of 
the contemptible anarchist windbags, who deny the neces- 
sity of a state power (and, what is more, a power ruthless in 
its severity towards the bourgeoisie and ruthlessly firm 



towards disorganisers of government) for the transition 
from capitalism to communism and for the ridding of the 
working people of all forms of oppression and exploitation. 
It is at this moment, when our revolution has directly, 
concretely, and practically approached the tasks involved 
in the realisation of socialism — and therein lies its inesti- 
mable merit — it is at this moment, and exactly in connection 
with this most important of issues, the issue of bread, that 
the need becomes absolutely clear for an iron revolutionary 
rule, for a dictatorship of the proletariat, for the organisa- 
tion of the collection of food products, their transportation, 
and distribution on a mass, national scale, taking into 
account the requirements of tens and hundreds of millions 
of people, calculating the conditions and the results of pro- 
duction for a year and many years ahead (for there are 
sometimes years of crop failure, sometimes land improvements 
essential for increasing grain crops require years of work, 
and so forth). 

Romanov and Kerensky left to the working class a coun- 
try utterly impoverished by their predatory, criminal, and 
most terrible war, a country picked clean by Russian and 
foreign imperialists. Bread will suffice for all only if we 
keep the strictest account of every pood, only if every pound 
is distributed absolutely evenly. There is also an acute 
shortage of bread for machines, i.e., fuel; the railways and 
factories will come to a standstill, unemployment and 
famine will bring ruin on the whole nation, if we do not bend 
every effort to establish a strict and ruthless economy of 
consumption and proper distribution. We are faced by 
disaster, it is very near. An intolerably difficult May will 
be followed by a still more difficult June, July and August. 

Our state grain monopoly exists in law, but in practice 
it is being thwarted at every step by the bourgeoisie: The 
rural rich, the kulak, the parasite who has been robbing the 
whole neighbourhood for decades, prefers to enrich himself 
by profiteering and illicit distilling: it is so good for 
his pocket, and he can throw the blame for the famine on 
Soviet power. That, too, is the line of the political defenders 
of the kulak — the Constitutional-Democrats, the Right 
Socialist-Revolutionaries, and the Mensheviks — who are 
overtly and covertly "working" against the grain monopoly 



and against Soviet power. The party of the spineless, i.e., 
the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, are displaying their 
spinelessness here too: they are yielding to the covetous 
howls and outcries of the bourgeoisie, they are crying out 
against the grain monopoly, they are "protesting" against 
the food dictatorship, they are allowing themselves to be 
intimidated by the bourgeoisie, they are afraid to fight 
the kulak, and are flapping about hysterically, recommending 
that the fixed prices be raised, that private trading be per- 
mitted, and so forth. 

This party of the spineless reflects in politics something 
akin to what takes place in ordinary life when the kulak 
incites the poor peasants against the Soviets, bribes them by, 
say, letting some poor peasant have a pood of grain not for 
six, but for three rubles, so that the poor peasant, thus cor- 
rupted, may himself "make a bit" by profiteering, may 
"turn a penny" by selling that pood of grain at a profiteer- 
ing price of one hundred and fifty rubles, and himself 
become a decrier of the Soviets, which have prohibited 
private trading in grain. 

Anyone who is capable of reflecting, anyone who is will- 
ing to reflect ever so little, will see clearly what line this 
fight has taken. 

Either the advanced and class-conscious workers triumph 
and unite the poor peasant masses around themselves, 
establish rigorous order, a mercilessly severe rule, a genuine 
dictatorship of the proletariat — either they compel the kulak 
to submit, and institute a proper distribution of food and 
fuel on a national scale; 

— or the bourgeoisie, with the help of the kulaks, and 
with the indirect support of the spineless and muddle-headed 
(the anarchists and the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries), 
will overthrow Soviet power and set up a Russo-German or a 
Russo-Japanese Kornilov, who will present the people with 
a sixteen-hour working day, an ounce of bread per weak, 
mass shooting of workers and torture in dungeons, as has 
been the case in Finland and the Ukraine. 

Either — or. 

There is no middle course. 

The situation of the country is desperate in the 



Anyone who reflects upon political life cannot fail to 
see that the Constitutional-Democrats, the Right Socialist- 
Revolutionaries, and the Mensheviks are coming to an 
understanding about who would be "pleasanter", a Russo- 
German or a Russo-Japanese Kornilov, about who would 
crush the revolution more effectively and reliably, a crowned 
or a republican Kornilov. 

It is time all class-conscious and advanced workers came 
to an understanding. It is time they bestirred themselves 
and realised that every minute's delay may spell ruin to 
the country and ruin to the revolution. 

Half-measures will be of no avail. Complaining will 
lead us nowhere. Attempts to secure bread or fuel "in 
retail fashion", "each man for himself", i.e., for "our" 
factory, "our" workshop, are only increasing the disor- 
ganisation and facilitating for the profiteers their selfish, 
filthy, and blackguardly work. 

That is why, comrades, workers of Petrograd, I have 
taken the liberty of addressing this letter to you. Petrograd 
is not Russia. The Petrograd workers are only a small part 
of the workers of Russia. But they are one of the best, the 
advanced, most class-conscious, most revolutionary, most 
steadfast detachments of the working class and of all the 
working people of Russia, and one of the least liable to 
succumb to empty phrases, to spineless despair and to 
the intimidation of the bourgeoisie. And it has frequently 
happened at critical moments in the life of nations that even 
small advanced detachments of advanced classes have car- 
ried the rest with them, have fired the masses with revolu- 
tionary enthusiasm, and have accomplished tremendous 
historical feats. 

"There were forty thousand of us at the Putilov Works," 
the delegate from the Petrograd workers said to me. "But 
the majority of them were 'temporary' workers, not pro- 
letarians, an unreliable, flabby lot. Now there are fifteen 
thousand left, but these are proletarians, tried and steeled 
in the fight." 

That is the sort of vanguard of the revolution — in Pet- 
rograd and throughout the country — that must sound the 
call, must rise together, must understand that the salvation 
of the country is in their hands, that from them is demanded 



a heroism no less than that which they displayed in January 
and October 1905 and in February and October 1917, that a 
great "crusade" must be organised against the grain profit- 
eers, the kulaks, the parasites, the disorganisers and bribe- 
takers, a great "crusade" against the violators of strictest 
state order in the collection, transportation, and distribution 
of bread for the people and bread for the machines. 

The country and the revolution can be saved only by the 
mass effort of the advanced workers. We need tens of thou- 
sands of advanced and steeled proletarians, class-conscious 
enough to explain matters to the millions of poor peasants 
all over the country and to assume the leadership of these 
millions, resolute enough to ruthlessly cast out of their 
midst and shoot all who allow themselves to be "tempted" — 
as indeed happens — by the temptations of profiteering and 
turn from fighters for the cause of the people into robbers; 
we need proletarians steadfast enough and devoted enough 
to the revolution to bear in an organised way all the hardships 
of the crusade and take it to every corner of the country for 
the establishment of order, for the consolidation of the local 
organs of Soviet power, and for the exercise of control in the 
localities over every pood of grain and every pood of fuel. 

It is rather more difficult to do this than to display heroism 
for a few days without leaving one's accustomed place, with- 
out joining in a crusade, confining oneself to an impulsive 
uprising against the idiot monster Romanov or the fool and 
braggart Kerensky. Heroism displayed in prolonged and 
persevering organisational work on a national scale is 
immensely more difficult than, but at the same time immense- 
ly superior to, heroism displayed in an uprising. But the 
strength of working-class parties, the strength of the working 
class has always been that it looks danger boldly, squarely 
and openly in the face, that it does not fear to admit dan- 
ger and soberly weighs the forces in "our" camp and in 
"the other" camp, the camp of the exploiters. The revolution 
is progressing, developing, and growing. The tasks we face 
are also growing. The struggle is broadening and deepening. 
Proper distribution of bread and fuel, their procurement in 
greater quantities and the very strict account and control 
of them by the workers on a national scale — that is the real 
and chief prelude to socialism. That is no longer a "general 



revolutionary" task but a communist task, a task which 
requires that the working people and the poor engage 
capitalism in a decisive battle. 

And this battle is worth giving all one's strength to it; 
the difficulties are great, but so is the cause of the abolition 
of oppression and exploitation for which we are fighting. 

When the people are starving, when unemployment is 
becoming ever more terrible, anyone who conceals an extra 
pood of grain, anyone who deprives the state of a pood of 
fuel is an out-and-out criminal. 

At such a time — and for a genuinely communist society, 
it is always true — every pood of grain and fuel is veritably 
sacred, much more so than the sacred things which priests 
use to confuse the minds of fools, promising them the king- 
dom of heaven as a reward for slavery on earth. And in 
order to rid this genuinely sacred thing of every remnant 
of the "sacredness" of the priests, we must take possession 
of it practically, we must achieve its proper distribution 
in practice, we must collect the whole of it without excep- 
tion; every particle of surplus grain must be brought into 
the state stores, the whole country must be swept clean of 
concealed or ungarnered grain surpluses; we need the firm 
hand of the worker to harness every effort to increase the 
output of fuel and to secure the greatest economy of fuel, 
the greatest efficiency in its transportation and consumption. 

We need a mass "crusade" of the advanced workers to 
every centre of production of grain and fuel, to every im- 
portant centre of supply and distribution — a mass "crusade" 
to increase the intensity of work tenfold, to assist the local 
organs of Soviet power in the matter of accounting and con- 
trol, and to eradicate profiteering, graft, and slovenliness 
by armed force. This is not a new task. History, properly 
speaking, is not advancing new tasks — all it is doing is to 
increase the size and scope of old tasks as the scope of the 
revolution, its difficulties, and the greatness of its world- 
historic aim increase. 

One of the greatest and indefeasible accomplishments 
of the October Revolution — the Soviet revolution — is that 
the advanced worker, as the leader of the poor, as the leader 
of the toiling masses of the countryside, as the builder of 
the state of the toilers, has "gone among the people". 



Petrograd and other proletarian centres have given thousands 
upon thousands of their best workers to the countryside. 
The detachments of fighters against the Kaledins and Du- 
tovs, and the food detachments, are nothing new. Only the 
proximity of disaster, the acuteness of the situation compel 
us to do ten times more than before. 

When the worker became the vanguard leader of the poor 
he did not thereby become a saint. He led the people for- 
ward, but he also became infected with the diseases of 
petty-bourgeois disintegration. The fewer the detachments 
of best organised, of most class-conscious, and most disci- 
plined and steadfast workers were, the more frequently did 
these detachments degenerate, the more frequently did the 
small-proprietor instincts of the past triumph over the pro- 
letarian-communist consciousness of the future. 

Having begun the communist revolution, the working 
class cannot instantly discard the weaknesses and vices 
inherited from the society of landowners and capitalists, 
the society of exploiters and parasites, the society based on 
the filthy selfishness and personal gain of a few and the 
poverty of the many. But the working class can vanquish 
the old world — and in the end will certainly and inevitably 
vanquish it — with its vices and weaknesses, if against the 
enemy are brought ever greater detachments of workers, 
ever more enlightened by experience and tempered by the 
hardships of the struggle. 

Such and only such is the state of affairs in Russia today. 
Single-handed and disunited, we shall not be able to cope 
with famine and unemployment. We need a mass "crusade" 
of advanced workers to every corner of this vast country. 
We need ten times more iron detachments of the proletariat, 
class-conscious and boundlessly devoted to communism. 
Then we shall triumph over famine and unemployment. 
Then we shall make the revolution the real prelude to 
socialism, and then, too, we shall be in a position to conduct 
a victorious war of defence against the imperialist vultures. 

May 22, 1918 N. Lenin 

Pravda No. 101, 
May 24, 1918 

Published according to 
the Pravda text 


MAY 22, 1918 

Comrades, permit me first of all to greet the Congress of 
Commissars for Labour in the name of the Council of People's 
Commissars. (Enthusiastic applause.) 

At yesterday's session of the Council of People's Commis- 
sars, Comrade Shlyapnikov reported that your Congress had 
subscribed to the resolution of the trade unions on labour 
discipline and production rates. Comrades, I believe you 
have taken an important step in passing this resolution, 
which not only deals with the productivity of labour and 
production conditions, but is also a very important step 
in principle from the standpoint of the present situation 
in general. Your contact with the broad masses of the workers 
is constant and a matter of business and not merely a casual 
contact, and you know that our revolution is experiencing 
one of the most important and critical moments of its 

You are fully aware that our enemies, the Western impe- 
rialists, are lying in wait for us, and that there may per- 
haps come a time when they will turn their hordes loose 
on us. That external enemy is now being joined by another 
dangerous enemy — the internal enemy — the disruption, 
chaos and disorganisation that are being intensified by the 
bourgeoisie in general and by the petty bourgeoisie in par- 
ticular, and by various yes-men and hangers-on of the 
bourgeoisie. You know, comrades, that after the most 
brutal war, in which we were involved by the tsarist regime 
And by the collaborators headed by Kerensky, we were left 
with a heritage of disruption and extreme economic ruin. 
We now have to face the most critical moment, when hun- 
ger and unemployment are knocking at the door of an 



increasing number of workers, when hundreds and, thousands 
of people are suffering the pangs of hunger, when the 
situation is being aggravated by there being no bread when 
there could be bread, when we know that the proper dis- 
tribution of bread depends on proper transport of grain. 
The shortage of fuel since we have been cut off from the 
rich fuel regions, the catastrophic condition of the railways 
that may possibly be threatened with a stoppage of traffic — 
such are the conditions that breed difficulties for the revo- 
lution and fill with joy the hearts of the Kornilovites of all 
kinds and colours. They are now daily, hourly, perhaps, 
discussing how to take advantage of the difficulties of the 
Soviet Republic and proletarian power, how to again place a 
Kornilov on the throne. They are now arguing about 
what nationality the new Kornilov is to be — it must 
be someone who suits the bourgeoisie, whether he wears a 
crown or is a republican Kornilov. The workers now know 
what the matter is, and after what the Russian revolution 
has experienced since Kerensky, they are not a bit sur- 
prised. But the strength of the working-class organisation, of 
the working-class revolution, lies in our not closing our 
eyes to the truth, in our realising the exact state of affairs. 

We have said that the war, such is its scale and in- 
credible brutality, threatens the complete destruction of 
European civilisation. The only possible salvation is for 
the workers to take over power and establish strict law 
and order. Since 1905 the proletariat of Russia has for a 
certain time moved far ahead of the other international 
armies of the proletariat because of the course taken by 
the Russian revolution and a special historical situation. 
We have now reached the stage when the revolution is 
maturing in all West-European countries, when it is becom- 
ing clear that the situation of the armies of German workers 
is hopeless. We know that over there in the West, the working 
people are not confronted with the rotten regime of Romanov 
and empty boasters but by a bourgeoisie that is fully organ- 
ised and can rely on all the achievements of modern 
civilisation and engineering. That is why it was so easy for 
us to start the revolution and more difficult to continue it, 
and why over there in the West it will be more difficult to 
start and easier to continue. Our difficulty is that every- 



thing has to be done by the efforts of the proletariat of Rus- 
sia alone, and that we have to maintain our position until 
our ally, the international proletariat of all countries, grows 
strong enough. Every day impresses it on us that there is 
no other way out. Our position is made more difficult 
because, without reinforcements, we are faced with disorgan- 
isation on the railways, with transport and food disrup- 
tions. There the question must be presented in a way that 
is clear to everyone. 

I hope that the Congress of Commissars for Labour, which is 
in more immediate contact with the workers than anybody 
else — that this Congress will not only mark a stage in the 
direct improvement of those labour arrangements which we 
must make the basis of socialism, but that it will also serve 
to clear the minds of the workers in respect of the situation 
we are at present experiencing. The working class is con- 
fronted with a difficult but honourable task on which the 
fate of socialism in Russia depends, and probably in other 
countries, too. That is why a resolution on labour disci- 
pline is so important. 

Now that power is firmly in the hands of the workers, 
everything depends on proletarian discipline and proletar- 
ian organisation. It is a question of discipline and the 
dictatorship of the proletariat, a question of iron rule. The 
type of government that meets with the warmest sympathy 
and very determined support of the poor must be as strong 
as iron, because incredible calamities are advancing upon us. 
A large section of the workers are living under the impres- 
sion of the old and hope that we shall somehow manage to 
get out of the present situation. 

Every day, however, these illusions are being shattered, 
and it is becoming more and more obvious that the world 
war threatens whole countries with famine and decay if 
the working class does not overcome the economic ruin by 
means of its organisational ability. Side by side with the 
politically conscious section of the working class whose 
entire activity is devoted to making the new discipline of 
comradeship the basis of everything, we see the many mil- 
lions of petty property-owners, the petty-bourgeois element, 
who look at everything from the standpoint of their own 
narrow interests. We cannot fight against the famine and 



disaster that are approaching, other than by establishing the 
iron discipline of the politically conscious workers — without 
it we can do nothing. Because of the huge extent of Russia 
we are living under conditions in which there is a lot of 
bread at one end of the country and none at the other. It 
is no use consoling ourselves with the thought that the war 
of defence that may be forced on us will not take place. It 
must not be thought that the towns and the huge industrial 
centres can be fed if food is not delivered regularly. Every 
pood of grain must be recorded so that not a single pood is 
wasted. We know, however, that no such record is really 
made, except on paper. In real life the petty profiteers are 
only corrupting the village poor by impressing on them 
that private trading can make up for their shortages. We 
cannot get out of the crisis under those conditions. In Rus- 
sia there can be enough bread for the people and enough 
bread, i.e., fuel, for industry, only if everything we have 
is strictly divided among all citizens so that nobody can 
take an extra pound of bread and not a single pound of fuel 
can remain unused. That is the only way to save the country 
from famine. That is a lesson in communist distribution — 
everything accounted for, so that there is enough bread for 
the people and enough fuel for industry — and it is not a 
lesson taken from a book, it is one we have arrived at through 
bitter experience. 

The broad masses of the workers may not immediately 
realise that we are face to face with disaster. What is needed 
is a workers' crusade against disorganisation and against 
the concealment of grain. And a crusade is needed to estab- 
lish throughout the country the labour discipline you have 
passed a resolution on and have been talking about within 
the limits of the factories; the masses must be made to 
understand that there is no other way out. In the history of 
our revolution, the strength of the politically conscious work- 
ers has always been their ability to look the most bitter 
and dangerous reality straight in the face, to harbour no- 
illusions but calculate their forces exactly. We can count on 
the politically conscious workers alone; the remaining mass, 
the bourgeoisie and the petty proprietors, are against us; 
they do not believe in the new order and take advantage of 
every opportunity to worsen the plight of the people. What 



we see in the Ukraine and in Finland may serve as an example: 
the incredible atrocities and the seas of blood in which 
the bourgeoisie and its supporters, from the Constitutional- 
Democrats to the Socialist-Revolutionaries, are drowning 
the towns they conquer with the aid of their allies. All this 
goes to show what awaits the proletariat in the future if it 
does not fulfil its historic task. We know how small is the 
section of advanced and politically conscious workers in 
Russia. We also know the plight of the people and know that 
the broad masses are certain to realise that we cannot get 
out of the situation by half-measures, that there will have to 
be a proletarian revolution. We live at a time when coun- 
tries are being ruined and millions of people are doomed to 
perish or subjected to military slavery. Hence, the revolu- 
tion that history has forced on us, not by the evil will of 
individuals, but because the entire capitalist system is 
breaking up, because its foundations are cracking. 

Comrades, Commissars for Labour, make use of every meet- 
ing you hold at any factory, of your talks with delegations 
of workers, make use of every opportunity to explain the 
situation, so that the workers know that we are faced with 
either destruction or self-discipline, organisation and the 
possibility to defend ourselves. Let them know that we are 
faced with a return of the Kornilovs — Russian, German or 
Japanese Kornilovs — who will bring a ration of an ounce of 
bread a week if the politically conscious workers, at the head 
of all the poor, do not organise a crusade against the chaos 
and disorganisation which the petty bourgeoisie are every- 
where intensifying, and which we must put down. It is 
a question of every politically conscious worker feeling that 
he is not only the master in his own factory but that he is 
also a representative of the country, of his feeling his respon- 
sibility. The politically conscious worker must know that he is 
a representative of his class. He must win if he takes the lead in 
the movement against the bourgeoisie and the profiteers. The 
politically conscious worker will understand what the main 
task of the socialist is, and then we shall win. Then we 
shall find the forces and shall be able to fight. {Loud, pro- 
longed applause.) 

Izvestia VTsIK No. 102, 
May 23, 1918 
and Pravda No. 101, May 24, 1918 

Published according to 
the Pravda text, 
collated with the Izvestia text 





The Council of People's Commissars, fully approving 
and welcoming the idea underlying the draft for the foun- 
dation of the Socialist Academy, instructs the Commissa- 
riat for Education to remake this draft on the following 

1) — a publishing society of a Marxist trend to 

be made the cornerstone; 

2) — Marxist forces abroad to be enlisted in especially 

large numbers; 

3) — a series of social investigations to be made one 

of the primary tasks; 

4) — immediate measures to be taken to ascertain, 

assemble and utilise Russian personnel available 
for lecturing. 

Written on May 25, 1918 

First published in 1933 Published according to 

in Lenin Miscellany XXI the manuscript 





The Commission is to be instructed: 

1) to make a detailed examination of the Rules of 
the Socialist Academy of Social Sciences for sub- 
mission to the Council of People's Commissars and 
then to the C.E.C.; 

2) to begin immediately an exchange of opinions on 
this question, and also on the question of mem- 
bership, with non-Russian and foreign Marxists, 

3) to compile and discuss a list of suitable and will- 
ing candidates as foundation members, and as 
teachers, for submission of this list to the Council 
of People's Commissars and the C.E.C. 154 

Written on June 7, 1918 

First published in 1933 Published according to 

in Lenin Miscellany XXI the manuscript 



1) The Commissariat for War to be converted into a Com- 
missariat for War and Food — i.e., 9/10 of the work of the 
Commissariat for War to be concentrated on reorganising 
the army for the war for grain and on waging this war — for 
three months: June-August. 

2) Martial law to be declared throughout the country 
during this period. 

3) The army to be mobilised, selecting its sound elements, 
and 19-year-olds to be called up, at any rate in certain 
regions, for systematic military operations to fight for, win, 
collect and transport grain and fuel. 

4) Shooting for indiscipline to be introduced. 

5) The success of detachments to be measured by success 
in obtaining grain and by practical results in collecting 
grain surpluses. 

6) The tasks of the military campaign should be formulat- 
ed as follows: 

a) the collection of stocks of grain for feeding the popu- 

b) ditto — for three months' food reserve for war; 

c) safeguarding stocks of coal, collecting them and increas- 
ing output. 

7) The detachments of the active army (active against 
kulaks, etc.) to consist of from one-third to one-half (in each 
detachment) of workers and poor peasants of the famine- 
stricken gubernias. 

8) Each detachment to be issued two kinds of instruction: 
a) ideological-political, on the importance of victory over 

famine and the kulaks, on the dictatorship of the proletar- 
iat as the working people's power; 



b) military-organisational, on the internal organisation 
of the detachments, on discipline, on control and written 
documents of control for each operation, etc. 

9) A collective liability of the whole detachment to be 
introduced, for example the threat of shooting every tenth 
man — for each case of plunder. 

10) All means of transport belonging to rich persons in 
the towns to be mobilised for work in transporting grain; 
well-to-do classes to be mobilised to act as clerks and 

11) If signs of demoralisation of the detachments become 
threateningly frequent, the "sick" detachments to be sent 
back after a month, i.e., exchanged, to the place from which 
they came, for report and "treatment". 

12) The following to be adopted both in the Council of 
People's Commissars and in the Central Executive Commit- 

(a) declaration that the country is in a state of grave 
danger as regards food; 

(b) martial law; 

(c) mobilisation of the army, together with its reorgani- 
sation as mentioned above, for the campaign for grain; 

(d) in each uyezd and volost with grain surpluses, imme- 
diate compilation of a list of rich owners of land (kulaks), 
grain traders, etc., making them personally responsible for 
the collection of all grain surpluses; 

(e) the appointment to each military detachment — at the 
rate of at least one out of approximately ten men — of per- 
sons with a party recommendation of the R.C.P., the Left 
Socialist-Revolutionaries or the trade unions. 

13) In implementing the grain monopoly the most vig- 
orous measures for assistance to the rural poor to be made 
obligatory without shrinking from any financial sacrifices, 
and measures for free distribution among them of part of 
the grain surpluses collected from the kulaks, side by side 
with ruthless suppression of kulaks who withhold grain 

Written on May 26, 1918 

First published in 1931 
in Lenin Miscellany XVIII 

Published according to 
the manuscript 


MAY 26, 1918 

Comrades, permit me first of all to greet the Congress 
of Economic Councils in the name of the Council of People's 
Commissars. (Applause.) 

Comrades, the Supreme Economic Council now has 
a difficult, but a most rewarding task. There is not the 
slightest doubt that the further the gains of the October 
Revolution go, the more profound the upheaval it started 
becomes, the more firmly the socialist revolution's gains 
become established and the socialist system becomes consol- 
idated, the greater and higher will become the role of the 
Economic Councils, which alone of all the state institutions 
are to endure. And their position will become all the more 
durable the closer we approach the establishment of the social- 
ist system and the less need there will be for a purely ad- 
ministrative apparatus, for an apparatus which is solely 
engaged in administration. After the resistance of the 
exploiters has been finally broken, after the working people 
have learned to organise socialist production, this apparatus 
of administration in the proper, strict, narrow sense of 
the word, this apparatus of the old state, is doomed to die; 
while the apparatus of the type of the Supreme Economic 
Council is destined to grow, to develop and become strong, 
performing all the main activities of organised society. 

That is why, comrades, when I look at the experience 
of our Supreme Economic Council and of the local 
councils, with the activities of which it is closely and 
inseparably connected, I think that, in spite of much that 
is unfinished, incomplete and unorganised, we have not 
even the slightest grounds for pessimistic conclusions. 
For the task which the Supreme Economic Council 
sets itself, and the task which all the regional and local 



councils set themselves, is so enormous, so all-embracing, 
that there is absolutely nothing that gives rise to alarm 
in what we all observe. Very often — of course, from our point 
of view, perhaps too often — the proverb "measure thrice and 
cut once" has not been applied. Unfortunately, things are not 
so simple in regard to the organisation of the economy on 
socialist lines as they are expressed in that proverb. 

With the transition of all power — this time not only 
political and not even mainly political, but economic 
power, that is, power that affects the deepest foundations of 
everyday human existence — to a new class, and, moreover, 
to a class which for the first time in the history of humanity 
is the leader of the overwhelming majority of the popula- 
tion, of the whole mass of the working and exploited people — 
our tasks become more complicated. 

It goes without saying that in view of the supreme impor- 
tance and the supreme difficulty of the organisational tasks 
that confront us, when we must organise the deepest founda- 
tions of the existence of hundreds of millions of people on 
entirely new lines, it is impossible to arrange matters as sim- 
ply as in the proverb "measure thrice and cut once". We, in- 
deed, are not in a position to measure a thing innumerable 
times and then cut out and fix what has been finally measured 
and fitted. We must build our economic edifice as we go along, 
trying out various institutions, watching their work, testing 
them by the collective common experience of the working 
people, and, above all, by the results of their work. We must 
do this as we go along, and, moreover, in a situation of desper- 
ate struggle and frenzied resistance by the exploiters, whose 
frenzy grows the nearer we come to the time when we can 
pull out the last bad teeth of capitalist exploitation. It is 
understandable that if even within a brief period we have to 
alter the types, the regulations and the bodies of adminis- 
tration in various branches of the national economy several 
times, there are not the slightest grounds for pessimism in 
these conditions, although, of course, this gives considerable 
grounds for malicious outbursts on the part of the bourgeoisie 
and the exploiters, whose best feelings are hurt. Of course, 
those who take too close and too direct a part in this 
work, say, the Chief Water Board, do not always find it 
pleasant to alter the regulations, the norms and the laws of 



administration three times; the pleasure obtained from work 
of this kind cannot be great. But if we abstract ourselves 
somewhat from the direct unpleasantness of extremely fre- 
quent alteration of decrees, and if we look a little deeper 
and further into the enormous world-historic task that the 
Russian proletariat has to carry out with the aid of its own 
still inadequate forces, it will become immediately under- 
standable that even far more numerous alterations and test- 
ing in practice of various systems of administration and 
various forms of discipline are inevitable; that in such a 
gigantic task, we could never claim, and no sensible social- 
ist who has ever written on the prospects of the future ever 
even thought, that we could immediately establish and com- 
pose the forms of organisation of the new society according 
to some predetermined instruction and at one stroke. 

All that we knew, all that the best experts on capitalist 
society, the greatest minds who foresaw its development, 
exactly indicated to us was that transformation was his- 
torically inevitable and must proceed along a certain main 
line, that private ownership of the means of production 
was doomed by history, that it would burst, that the exploit- 
ers would inevitably be expropriated. This was established 
with scientific precision, and we knew this when we 
grasped the banner of socialism, when we declared ourselves 
socialists, when we founded socialist parties, when we 
transformed society. We knew this when we took power 
for the purpose of proceeding with socialist reorganisation; 
but we could not know the forms of transformation, or the 
rate of development of the concrete reorganisation. Collec- 
tive experience, the experience of millions can alone give 
us decisive guidance in this respect, precisely because, for 
our task, for the task of building socialism, the experience 
of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of those upper 
sections which have made history up to now in feudal society 
and in capitalist society is insufficient. We cannot proceed 
in this way precisely because we rely on joint experience, 
on the experience of millions of working people. 

We know, therefore, that organisation, which is the 
main and fundamental task of the Soviets, will inevitably 
entail a vast number of experiments, a vast number of steps, 
a vast number of alterations, a vast number of difficulties, 



particularly in regard to the question of how to fit every 
person into his proper place, because we have no experience 
of this; here we have to devise every step ourselves, and 
the more serious the mistakes we make on this path, the 
more the certainty will grow that with every increase in 
the membership of the trade unions, with every additional 
thousand, with every additional hundred thousand that come 
over from the camp of working people, of exploited, who 
have hitherto lived according to tradition and habit, into 
the camp of the builders of Soviet organisations, the number 
of people who should prove suitable and organise the work 
on proper lines is increasing. 

Take one of the secondary tasks that the Economic 
Council — the Supreme Economic Council — comes up 
against with particular frequency, the task of utilising bour- 
geois experts. We all know, at least those who take their 
stand on the basis of science and socialism, that this task 
can be fulfilled only when — that this task can be fulfilled 
only to the extent that international capitalism has devel- 
oped the material and technical prerequisites of labour, or- 
ganised on an enormous scale and based on science, and hence 
on the training of an enormous number of scientifically 
educated specialists. We know that without this socialism 
is impossible. If we reread the works of those socialists who 
have observed the development of capitalism during the last 
half-century, and who have again and again come to the 
conclusion that socialism is inevitable, we shall find that 
all of them without exception have pointed out that socialism 
alone will liberate science from its bourgeois fetters, from 
its enslavement to capital, from its slavery to the interests 
of dirty capitalist greed. Socialism alone will make possible 
the wide expansion of social production and distribution on 
scientific lines and their actual subordination to the aim 
of easing the lives of the working people and of improving 
their welfare as much as possible. Socialism alone can achieve 
this. And we know that it must achieve this, and in the 
understanding of this truth lies the whole complexity and 
the whole strength of Marxism. 

We must achieve this while relying on elements which 
are opposed to it, because the bigger capital becomes the 
more the bourgeoisie suppresses the workers. Now that power 



is in the hands of the proletariat and the poor peasants and 
the government is setting itself tasks with the support of the 
people, we have to achieve these socialist changes with the 
help of bourgeois experts who have been trained in bourgeois 
society, who know no other conditions, who cannot conceive 
of any other social system. Hence, even in cases when these 
experts are absolutely sincere and loyal to their work they are 
filled with thousands of bourgeois prejudices, they are 
connected by thousands of ties, imperceptible to themselves, 
with bourgeois society, which is dying and decaying and is 
therefore putting up furious resistance. 

We cannot conceal these difficulties of endeavour and 
achievement from ourselves. Of all the socialists who have 
written about this, I cannot recall the work of a single 
socialist or the opinion of a single prominent socialist on 
future socialist society, which pointed to this concrete, 
practical difficulty that would confront the working class 
when it took power, when it set itself the task of turning 
the sum total of the very rich, historically inevitable and 
necessary for us store of culture and knowledge and tech- 
nique accumulated by capitalism from an instrument of 
capitalism into an instrument of socialism. It is easy to 
do this in a general formula, in abstract reasoning, but 
in the struggle against capitalism, which does not die at 
once but puts up increasingly furious resistance the closer 
death approaches, this task is one that calls for tremendous 
effort. If experiments take place in this field, if we make 
repeated corrections of partial mistakes, this is inevitable 
because we cannot, in this or that sphere of the national 
economy, immediately turn specialists from servants of 
capitalism into servants of the working people, into their 
advisers. If we cannot do this at once it should not give 
rise to the slightest pessimism, because the task which we 
set ourselves is a task of world-historic difficulty and sig- 
nificance. We do not shut our eyes to the fact that in a single 
country, even if it were a much less backward country than 
Russia, even if we were living in better conditions than 
those prevailing after four years of unprecedented, painful, 
severe and ruinous war, we could not carry out the socialist 
revolution completely, solely by our own efforts. He who 
turns away from the socialist revolution now taking place 



in Russia and points to the obvious disproportion of forces 
is like the conservative "man in a muffler" who cannot see 
further than his nose, who forgets that not a single histori- 
cal change of any importance takes place without there 
being several instances of a disproportion of forces. Forces 
grow in the process of the struggle, as the revolution grows. 
When a country has taken the path of profound change, it 
is to the credit of that country and the party of the working 
class which achieved victory in that country, that they 
should take up in a practical manner the tasks that were 
formerly raised abstractly, theoretically. This experience 
will never be forgotten. The experience which the workers 
now united in trade unions and local organisations are 
acquiring in the practical work of organising the whole of 
production on a national scale cannot be taken away, no matter 
how difficult the vicissitudes the Russian revolution and 
the international socialist revolution may pass through. It 
has gone down in history as socialism's gain, and on it the 
future world revolution will erect its socialist edifice. 

Permit me to mention another problem, perhaps the most 
difficult problem, for which the Supreme Economic 
Council has to find a practical solution. This is the 
problem of labour discipline. Strictly speaking, in men- 
tioning this problem, we ought to admit and emphasise 
with satisfaction that it was precisely the trade unions, 
their largest organisations, namely, the Central Committee 
of the Metalworkers' Union and the All-Russia Trade Union 
Council, the supreme trade union organisations uniting 
millions of working people, that were the first to set to 
work independently to solve this problem and this problem 
is of world-historic importance. In order to understand it 
we must abstract ourselves from those partial, minor 
failures, from the incredible difficulties which, if taken 
separately, seem to be insurmountable. We must rise to a 
higher level and survey the historical change of systems of 
social economy. Only from this angle will it be possible to 
appreciate the immensity of the task which we have under- 
taken. Only then will it be possible to appreciate the enor- 
mous significance of the fact that on this occasion, the most 
advanced representatives of society, the working and ex- 
ploited people are, on their own initiative, taking on them- 



selves the task which hitherto, in feudal Russia, up to 1861, 
was solved by a handful of landed proprietors, who regarded 
it as their own affair. At that time it was their affair to 
bring about state integration and discipline. 

We know how the feudal landowners created this disci- 
pline. It was oppression, humiliation and the incredible 
torments of penal servitude for the majority of the people. 
Recall the whole of this transition from serfdom to the 
bourgeois economy. From all that you have witnessed — 
although the majority of you could not have witnessed it — 
and from all that you have learned from the older genera- 
tions, you know how easy, historically, seemed the transi- 
tion to the new bourgeois economy after 1861, the transi- 
tion from the old feudal discipline of the stick, from the 
discipline of the most senseless, arrogant and brutal humil- 
iation and personal violence, to bourgeois discipline, to 
the discipline of starvation, to so-called free hire, which 
in fact was the discipline of capitalist slavery. This was 
because mankind passed from one exploiter to another; 
because one minority of plunderers and exploiters of the 
people's labour gave way to another minority, who were 
also plunderers and exploiters of the people's labour; because 
the feudal landowners gave way to the capitalists, one mi- 
nority gave way to another minority, while the toiling and 
exploited classes remained oppressed. And even this change 
from one exploiter's discipline to another exploiter's disci- 
pline took years, if not decades, of effort; it extended over a 
transition period of years, if not decades. During this 
period the old feudal landowners quite sincerely believed 
that everything was going to rack and ruin, that it was 
impossible to manage the country without serfdom; while 
the new, capitalist boss encountered practical difficulties 
at every step and gave up his enterprise as a bad job. The 
material evidence, one of the substantial proofs of the dif- 
ficulty of this transition was that Russia at that time im- 
ported machinery from abroad, in order to have the best 
machinery to use, and it turned out that no one was available 
to handle this machinery, and there were no managers. 
And all over Russia one could see excellent machinery lying 
around unused, so difficult was the transition from the old 
feudal discipline to the new, bourgeois, capitalist discipline. 



And so, comrades, if you look at the matter from this 
angle, you will not allow yourselves to be misled by those 
people, by those classes, by those bourgeoisie and their 
hangers-on whose sole task is to sow panic, to sow despond- 
ency, to cause complete despondency concerning the whole 
of our work, to make it appear to be hopeless, who point to 
every single case of indiscipline and corruption, and for 
that reason give up the revolution as a bad job, as if there 
has ever been in the world, in history, a single really great 
revolution in which there was no corruption, no loss of dis- 
cipline, no painful experimental steps, when the people were 
creating a new discipline. We must not forget that this is 
the first time that this preliminary stage in history has been 
reached, when a new discipline, labour discipline, the dis- 
cipline of comradely contact, Soviet discipline, is being 
created in fact by millions of working and exploited people. 
We do not claim, nor do we expect, quick successes in this 
field. We know that this task will take an entire historical 
epoch. We have begun this historical epoch, an epoch in 
which we are breaking up the discipline of capitalist 
society in a country which is still bourgeois, and we are 
proud that all politically conscious workers, absolutely 
all the toiling peasants are everywhere helping this de- 
struction; an epoch in which the people voluntarily, on their 
own initiative, are becoming aware that they must — not 
on instructions from above, but on the instructions of their 
own living experience — change, this discipline based on the 
exploitation and slavery of the working people into the new 
discipline of united labour, the discipline of the united, 
organised workers and working peasants of the whole of 
Russia, of a country with a population of tens and hundreds 
of millions. This is a task of enormous difficulty, but it 
is also a thankful one, because only when we solve it in 
practice shall we have driven the last nail into the coffin 
of capitalist society which we are burying. (Applause.) 

Newspaper report published 
in Izvestia VTsIK No. 106, 
May 28, 1918 

Published according to 
the text of the book: 
Transactions of the First All- 
Russia Congress of the 
Economic Council. Verbatim 
Report, Moscow, 1918 




Having heard the representatives of the railway and 
water transport organisations, and the representatives of 
workers of metallurgical factories and the trade union of 
railway workers, 

and having heard the proposal of these comrades to 
permit their organisations, the Central Food Bureau of the 
Commissariat for Ways of Communication, the Food 
Commission of the Chief Water Board of the Commissariat 
for Ways of Communication, etc., to carry out independ- 
ent procurements, 

the Council of People's Commissars insistently calls the at- 
tention of all organised, class-conscious and thinking workers 
and working peasants to the obvious unreasonableness of such 
proposals. It is clear to everyone that permitting the 
Central Food Bureau of the Commissariat for Ways of Com- 
munication, and food commissions of the Chief Water 
Board, of the Chief Metal Board and of the Chief Rubber 
Board, etc., to carry out separate independent procure- 
ments would completely ruin the whole food undertaking, 
would destroy every and any state organisation of workers 
and poor peasants and clear the way for the victory of the 
kulaks and Skoropadskys. 

All workers and starving peasants must understand that 
only by joint efforts, by organising hundreds and thousands 
of the best workers in common food detachments, only by 
throwing the united, combined, common, mass forces of the 
workers into the struggle for order, for bread, is it pos- 
sible to overcome famine and disorder, and defeat the 
profiteers and kulaks. 

It is foolish to believe those who request independent 
procurements for the Central Food Bureau of the Commissa- 


riat for Ways of Communication, for the Food Commission of 
the Chief Water Board, heedless of the fact that in each uyezd 
of the non-agricultural gubernias there are tens and hundreds 
of thousands of starving peasants who for months have 
received no grain at all. 

Does it not spell ruin if the peasants in each uyezd are 
allowed separate procurements? Is it really fair to give the 
Central Food Bureau of the Commissariat for Ways of Com- 
munication, as it wants, 60 millions for independent pro- 
curements, without giving each famine-stricken uyezd ten 
millions, without giving it independent procurements? 

Each railway workshop, every thousand office workers 
or water transport workers or factory workers should put 
forward a detachment of the best and most reliable persons 
in order by their joint, combined efforts to promote the 
general workers' and peasants' cause, that of salvation from 
famine, of victory over famine. 

Separate, independent procurements spell the ruin of 
the whole food undertaking, the ruin of the revolution, 
collapse and disintegration. 

Enlisting the best and most devoted workers from each 
thousand workers and office employees into detachments to 
form a general working-class fighting force for inculcating 
order, for aid in supervising, for collecting all grain sur- 
pluses, for complete victory over profiteers — in that alone is, 

Written on May 29, 1918 

First published in 1931 
in Lenin Miscellany XVIII 

Published according to 
the manuscript 



JUNE 4, 1918 

Newspaper reports published on 
June 5, 1918 in Pravda No. Ill 
and Izvestia VTsIK No. 113 

Published according to the text of the 
book: Minutes of the Sessions of the 
All-Russia Central Executive Com- 
mittee, 4th Convocation. Verbatim 
Report, Moscow, 1920, collated with 
the shorthand report and the text of 
the pamphlet N. Lenin, The struggle 
for Grain, Moscow, 1918 



JUNE 4, 1918 

Comrades, the subject I am about to speak of today is 
the great crisis which has overtaken all modern countries 
and which perhaps weighs most heavily on Russia, or, at any 
rate, is being felt by her far more severely than by other 
countries. I must speak of this crisis, the famine which 
has afflicted us, in conjunction with the problems that con- 
front us as a result of the general situation. And when we 
speak of the general situation, we cannot of course confine 
ourselves to Russia, particularly as all countries of modern 
capitalist civilisation are now bound together more pain- 
fully and more distressingly than ever before. 

Everywhere, both in the belligerent countries and in 
the neutral countries, the war, the imperialist war between 
two groups of gigantic plunderers, has resulted in an utter 
exhaustion of productive forces. Ruin and impoverishment 
have reached such a pitch that the most advanced, civilised 
and cultured countries, which for decades, nay for centuries, 
had not known what famine means, have been brought by the 
war to the point of famine in the genuine and literal sense 
of the term. It is true that in the advanced countries, 
especially in those in which large-scale capitalism has long 
since trained the population to the maximum level of eco- 
nomic organisation possible under that system, they have 
succeeded in properly distributing the famine, in keeping 
it longer at bay and in rendering it less acute. But Ger- 
many and Austria, for example, not to speak of the coun- 
tries that have been defeated and enslaved, have for a long 
time been suffering from real starvation. We can now open 



hardly a single issue of a newspaper without coming across 
numerous reports from a number of the advanced and cul- 
tured countries — not only belligerent, but also neutral 
countries, such as Switzerland and certain of the Scandina- 
vian countries — regarding the famine and the terrible hard- 
ships that have overtaken humanity as a result of the war. 

Comrades, for those who have been following the develop- 
ment of European society it has for long been indisputable 
that capitalism cannot end peacefully, and that it must 
lead either to a direct revolt of the broad masses against the 
yoke of capital or to the same result by the more painful 
and bloody way of war. 

For many years prior to the war the socialists of all 
countries pointed out, and solemnly declared at their con- 
gresses, that not only would a war between advanced coun- 
tries be an enormous crime, that not only would such a war, a 
war for the partition of the colonies and the division of the 
spoils of the capitalists, involve a complete rupture 
with the latest achievements of civilisation and culture, 
but that it might, that, in fact, it inevitably would, under- 
mine the very foundations of human society. Because it 
is the first time in history that the most powerful achieve- 
ments of technology have been applied on such a scale, 
so destructively and with such energy, for the annihilation 
of millions of human lives. When all means of production are 
being thus devoted to the service of war, we see that the most 
gloomy prophecies are being fulfilled, and that more and more 
countries are falling a prey to retrogression, starvation and 
a complete decline of all the productive forces. 

I am therefore led to recall how justified Engels, one 
of the great founders of scientific socialism, was, when in 
1887, thirty years before the Russian revolution, he wrote 
that a European war would not only result, as he expressed 
it, in crowns falling from crowned heads by the dozen 
without anybody to pick them up, but that this war would 
also lead to the brutalisation, degradation and retrogression 
of the whole of Europe; and that, on the other hand, war 
would result either in the domination of the working class 
or in the creation of the conditions which would render 
its domination indispensable. 159 On this occasion the co- 
founder of Marxism expressed himself with extreme caution, 



for he clearly saw that if history took this course, the 
result would be the collapse of capitalism and the extension 
of socialism, and that a more painful and severe transition 
period, greater want and a severer crisis, disruptive of all 
productive forces, could not be imagined. 

And we now clearly see the significance of the results 
of the imperialist slaughter of the peoples which has been 
dragging on for more than three years, when even the most 
advanced countries feel that the war has reached an impasse, 
that there is no escape from war under capitalism, and that 
it will lead to agonising ruin. And if we, comrades, if the 
Russian revolution — which is not due to any particular 
merit of the Russian proletariat but to the general course 
of historical events, which by the will of history has tem- 
porarily placed that proletariat in a foremost position and 
made it for the time being the vanguard of the world revo- 
lution — if it has befallen us to suffer particularly severe and 
acute agony from the famine, which is afflicting us more and 
more heavily, we must clearly realise that these misfortunes 
are primarily and chiefly a result of the accursed imperial- 
ist war. This war has brought incredible misfortunes on 
all countries, but these misfortunes are being concealed, 
with only temporary success, from the masses and from the 
knowledge of the vast majority of the peoples. 

As long as military oppression continues, as long as the 
war goes on, as long as, on the one hand, it is accompanied 
by hopes of victory and a belief that this crisis may be 
resolved by the victory of one of the imperialist groups, and, 
on the other hand, an unbridled military censorship prevails 
and the people are intoxicated by the spirit of militarism, 
as long as this continues the mass of the population of the 
majority of the countries, will be kept in ignorance of the 
abyss into which they are about to fall and into which half 
of them have already fallen. And we are feeling this with 
particular intensity now, because nowhere but in Russia is 
there such a glaring contrast to the vastness of the tasks 
the insurgent proletariat has set itself, realising that it is 
impossible to end the war, the world war between the world's 
most powerful imperialist giants, that this war cannot be 
ended without a mighty proletarian revolution, also embrac- 
ing the whole world. 



And since the march of events has placed us in one of the 
most prominent positions in this revolution and forced us 
to remain for a long time, at least since October 1917, an 
isolated contingent, prevented by events from coming 
quickly enough to the aid of other contingents of inter- 
national socialism, the position we find ourselves in is 
now ten times more severe. Having done all that can be 
done by the directly insurgent proletariat, and the poor 
peasantry supporting it, to overthrow our chief enemy and 
to protect the socialist revolution, we find nevertheless that 
at every step oppression by the imperialist predatory 
powers surrounding Russia and the legacy of the war are 
weighing on us more and more heavily. These consequences 
of the war have not yet made themselves fully felt. We are 
now, in the summer of 1918, facing what is perhaps one of 
the most difficult, one of the most severe and critical tran- 
sitional stages of our revolution. And the difficulty is not 
confined to the international arena, where our policy is 
inevitably bound to be one of retreat as long as our true and 
only ally, the international proletariat, is only preparing, is 
only maturing, for revolt, but is not yet in a position to act 
openly and concertedly, although the whole course of events 
in Western Europe, the furious savagery of the recent battles 
on the Western front, the crisis which is growing increas- 
ingly acute in the belligerent countries, all go to show that 
the revolt of the European workers is not far off, 
and that although it may be delayed it will inevitably 

It is in a situation like this that we have to ex- 
perience enormous internal difficulties, owing to which 
considerable vacillations have been caused mainly by the 
acute food shortage, by the agonising famine which has 
overtaken us and which compels us to face a task demanding 
the maximum exertion of effort and the greatest organisation, 
and which at the same time cannot be tackled by the old 
methods. We shall undertake the solution of this problem 
together with the class that was with us in opposing the 
imperialist war, the class together with which we overthrew 
the imperialist monarchy and the imperialist republican 
bourgeoisie of Russia, the class that must forge its weapons, 
develop its forces and create its organisation in the midst 



of increasing difficulties, increasing tasks and the increasing 
scope of the revolution. 

We are now facing the most elementary task of human 
society — to vanquish famine, or at least to mitigate at once 
the direct famine, the agonising famine which has afflicted 
both our two principal cities and numerous districts of agri- 
cultural Russia. And we have to solve this problem in the 
midst of a civil war and the furious and desperate resistance 
of the exploiters of all ranks and colours and of all orienta- 
tions. Naturally, in such a situation those elements in the 
political parties which cannot break with the old and can- 
not believe in the new find themselves in a state of war, 
which is being exploited for only one aim — to restore the 

The news we are receiving from every corner of Russia 
demands that we shall face this question, the connection 
between the famine and the fight against the exploiters, 
against the counter-revolution which is raising its head. 
The task confronting us is to vanquish the famine, or at 
least to mitigate its severities until the new harvest, to 
defend the grain monopoly and the rights of the Soviet 
state, the rights of the proletarian state. All grain sur- 
pluses must be collected; we must see to it that all stocks 
are brought to the places where they are needed and that 
they are properly distributed. This fundamental task means 
the preservation of human society; at the same time it 
involves incredible effort, it is a task which can be performed 
in only one way — by general and increased intensification 
of labour. 

In the countries where this problem is being solved by 
means of war, it is being solved by military servitude, by 
instituting military servitude for the workers and peasants; 
it is being solved by granting new and greater advantages 
to the exploiters. In Germany, for instance, where public 
opinion is stifled, where every attempt to protest against 
the war is suppressed, but where a sense of reality, of 
socialist hostility to the war nevertheless persists, you will 
find no more common method of saving the situation than 
the rapid increase in the number of millionaires who have 
grown rich on the war. These new millionaires have been 
enriching themselves fantastically. 



In all the imperialist countries the starvation of the masses 
offers a field for the most furious profiteering; incred- 
ible fortunes are being amassed on poverty and star- 

This is encouraged by the imperialist countries, e.g., 
Germany, where starvation is organised best of all. And 
not without reason is it said that Germany is a centre of 
organised starvation, where rations and crusts of bread 
are distributed among the population better than anywhere 
else. We see there that new millionaires are a common 
feature of the imperialist state; indeed, they know no 
other way of combating starvation. They permit twofold, 
threefold and fourfold profits to be made by those who 
possess plenty of grain and who know how to profiteer and 
to turn organisation, rationing, regulation and distribution 
into profiteering. We do not wish to follow that course, no 
matter who urges us to do so, whether wittingly or unwit- 
tingly. We say that we have stood and shall continue to 
stand shoulder to shoulder with the class together with 
which we opposed the war, together with which we overthrew 
the bourgeoisie and together with which we are suffering 
the hardships of the present crisis. We must insist on the 
grain monopoly being observed, not so as to legitimise 
capitalist profiteering, large or small, but so as to combat 
deliberate racketeering. 

And here we see greater difficulties and greater dangers 
than those that faced us when we were confronted by tsarism 
armed to the teeth against the people; or when we were 
confronted by the Russian bourgeoisie, which was also armed 
to the teeth, and which in the offensive of last June did 
not consider it a crime to shed the blood of hundreds of 
thousands of Russian workers and peasants while it kept in 
its pocket the secret treaties providing it with a share in 
the spoils, but which does consider it a crime for the toil- 
ers to wage war against the oppressors, the only just and 
sacred war, the war of which we spoke at the very outset 
of the imperialist slaughter and which events at every step 
are now inevitably associating with the famine. 

We know that the tsarist autocracy from the very 
beginning instituted fixed prices for grain and raised those 
prices. Why not? It remained faithful to its allies, the 



grain merchants, the profiteers and the banking magnates 
who made millions out of it. 

We know how the compromisers of the Constitutional- 
Democratic Party — together with the Socialist-Revolution- 
aries and the Mensheviks — and Kerensky introduced a 
grain monopoly, because all Europe was saying that without 
a monopoly they could not hold out any longer. And we 
know how this same Kerensky in August 1917 evaded the 
democratic law of the time. That is what democratic laws 
and artfully interpreted regimes are for — to be evaded. We 
know that in August Kerensky doubled those prices and 
that at that time socialists of every shade and colour pro- 
tested against and resented this measure. There was not a 
single newspaper at the time that was not outraged by Ke- 
rensky's conduct and that did not expose the fact that be- 
hind the republican Ministers, behind the Cabinet of Men- 
sheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, were the manipula- 
tions of the profiteers, that the doubling of grain prices was 
a concession to the profiteers, that the whole business was 
nothing but a concession to the profiteers. We know that story. 

We can now compare the course of the grain monopoly and 
of the fight against the famine in European capitalist coun- 
tries with the course taken in our country. We see what use 
the counter-revolutionaries are making of these events. 
They are a lesson from which we must draw definite and 
rigorous conclusions. The crisis, having reached the pitch 
of a severe famine, has rendered the civil war still more 
acute. It has led to the exposure of parties like the Right 
Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, who differ 
from that avowed capitalist party, the Constitutional- 
Democrats, only in that the Constitutional-Democratic Party 
is an open party of the Black Hundreds. The Constitutional- 
Democrats have nothing to say and are not obliged to ad- 
dress themselves to the people, they are not obliged to conceal 
their aims, whereas these parties, who compromised with 
Kerensky and shared power and the secret treaties with him, 
are obliged to address themselves to the people. (Applause.) 
And so they are from time to time forced to expose them- 
selves, despite their wishes and their plans. 

When, as a result of the famine, we see on the one hand 
an outbreak of uprisings and revolts of starving people and 



on the other a series of counter-revolutionary rebellions 
spreading like fire from one end of Russia to the other, 
obviously fed with funds from the Anglo-French imperialists, 
and aided by the efforts of the Right Socialist-Revolution- 
aries and the Mensheviks, we say to ourselves the picture is 
clear and we leave it to whoever so desires to dream of 
united fronts. 

And we now see very clearly that after the Russian bour- 
geoisie was defeated in open military conflict, all the open 
collisions between the revolutionary and counter-revolution- 
ary forces in the period from October 1917 to February and 
March 1918 proved to the counter-revolutionaries, even 
to the leaders of the Don Cossacks, in whom the greatest 
hopes had been placed, that their cause was lost, lost 
because everywhere the majority of the people were opposed 
to them. And every new attempt, even in the most patriar- 
chal districts, where the agriculturists are most wealthy 
and most socially isolated, from the outside world, 
as, for instance, the Cossacks — every new attempt 
without exception has resulted in new sections of the 
oppressed toilers actually rising against them. 

The experience of the civil war in the period from Octo- 
ber to March has shown that the masses of the working 
people, the Russian working class and the peasants who live 
by their own labour and not by exploiting others, are all 
over Russia, the vast majority of them, in favour of Soviet 
power. But those who thought that we were already on the 
path of greater organic development have been obliged to 
admit that they were mistaken. 

The bourgeoisie saw that it was defeated Then 

there came a split among the Russian petty bourgeoisie. 
Some of them are drawn towards the Germans, others 
towards the Anglo-French orientation, while both have 
this in common, that they are united by the famine 

In order that it may be clear to you, comrades, that it 
is not our Party but its enemies and the enemies of Soviet 
power who are reconciling the German orientation and the 
Anglo-French orientation and uniting them on a common 
programme, viz., to overthrow the Soviet power as the 
result of famine — in order to make it clear how this is taking 



place, I will take the liberty of briefly quoting from the 
report of the recent conference of the Mensheviks. 160 This 
report appeared in the newspaper Zhizn. 161 (Commotion 
and applause.) 

From this report, printed in No. 26 of Zhizn, we learn 
that Cherevanin, who made a report on economic policy, 
criticised the policy of the Soviet government and proposed 
a compromise solution of the problem — to enlist the services 
of representatives of merchant capital, as practical busi- 
nessmen, to act as commission agents on terms which would 
be very favourable for them. We learn from this report 
that the chairman of the Northern Food Board, Groman, 
who was present at the conference, announced the following 
conclusions, which he had arrived at, so that report states, 
on the basis of a vast store of personal and of all sorts of 
other observations — observations, I would add, made 
entirely in bourgeois circles. "Two methods," he said, "must 
be adopted: the first is that present prices must be raised; 
the second, that a special reward must be offered for prompt 
deliveries of grain," etc. (Voice: "What is wrong with that?") 
Yes, you will hear what is wrong with that, although the 
speaker, who has not been given the floor, but has taken 
it from that corner over there (applause), thinks he can 
convince you that there is nothing wrong with it. But he 
has presumably forgotten the course the Menshevik confer- 
ence took. This same paper, Zhizn, states that Groman 
was followed by the delegate Kolokolnikov, who said 
the following: "We are being invited to participate 
in the Bolshevik food organisations." Very wrong, is it not? 
That is what we have to say, recalling the interjection of 
the previous speaker. And if this speaker, who refuses to 
calm down and is taking the floor although he has not been 
granted it, cries out that it is a lie and that Kolokolnikov 
did not say that, I take note of the statement and request 
you to repeat that denial coherently and so that all may 
hear you. I take the liberty of recalling the resolution pro- 
posed at the conference by Martov, who is not unknown 
to you, and which on the question of the Soviet 
government literally says the same thing, although in differ- 
ent terms and phrases. (Commotion, shouting.) Yes, you 
may laugh, but the fact remains that in connection with a 



report on the food situation Menshevik representatives say 
that the Soviet government is not a proletarian organisa- 
tion, that it is a useless organisation. 

And at such a time, when counter-revolutionary uprisings 
are breaking out owing to the famine, and taking advantage 
of the famine, no denials and no tricks will avail, for the 
fact is obvious. We see the policy on this question effec- 
tively developed by Cherevanin, Groman and Kolokolnikov. 
The Civil War is reviving, counter-revolution is raising 
its head, and I am convinced that ninety-nine per cent of 
the Russian workers and peasants have drawn — although not 
everybody yet knows this — are drawing and will draw their 
conclusion from these events, and that this conclusion will 
be that only by smashing counter-revolution, only by con- 
tinuing a socialist policy over the famine, to combat the 
famine, shall we succeed in vanquishing both the famine and 
the counter-revolutionaries who are taking advantage of 
the famine. 

Comrades, we are in fact approaching a time when Soviet 
power, after a long and severe struggle against numerous 
and formidable counter-revolutionary enemies, has defeated 
them in open conflict, and, having overcome the military 
resistance of the exploiters and their sabotage, has come 
to grips with the task of organisation. This difficult struggle 
with famine, this tremendous problem is actually explained 
by the fact that we have now come directly face to face with 
a task of organisation. 

Success in an uprising is infinitely more easy. It is a mil- 
lion times easier to defeat the resistance of counter-revolu- 
tion than to succeed in the sphere of organisation. This 
particularly applies to the cases when we dealt with a 
task in which the insurgent proletarian and the small prop- 
erty-owner, i.e., the broad sections of the petty bourgeoi- 
sie, among whom there were many general-democratic and 
general-labour elements, could to a considerable extent act 
together. We have now passed from this task to another. 
Serious famine has driven us to a purely communist task. 
We are being confronted by a revolutionary socialist task. 
Incredible difficulties face us here. 

We do not fear these difficulties. We were aware of them. 
We never said that the transition from capitalism to social- 



ism would be easy. It will involve a whole period of violent 
civil war, it will involve taking painful measures, when 
the contingent of the insurgent proletariat in one country 
is joined by the proletariat of another country in order to 
correct their mistakes by joint efforts. The tasks that face 
us here are organisational tasks, concerned with articles of 
general consumption, concerned with the deepest roots of 
profiteering, which are connected with the upper strata of 
the bourgeois world and of capitalist exploitation, and 
which cannot be so easily removed by mere mass pressure. 
We have to deal here with the roots and runners of 
bourgeois exploitation, the shallow ones and those 
that have taken a deep or shallow hold in all countries 
in the form of the small property-owners, their whole 
system of life, and in the habits and sentiments of the 
small property-owner and the small master; we have to deal 
here with the small profiteer, with his unfamiliarity with the 
new system of life, his lack of faith in it and his despair. 

For it is a fact that when they sensed the tremendous 
difficulties that confront us in the revolution, many members 
of the working masses gave way to despair. We do not fear 
that. There never has been a revolution anywhere in which 
certain sections of the population were not overcome by 

When the masses put up a certain disciplined vanguard, 
and that vanguard knows that this dictatorship, this firm 
government, will help to win over all the poor peasants — 
this is a long process, involving a stern struggle — it is 
the beginning of the socialist revolution in the true sense 
of the term. But when we see that the united workers and 
the mass of poor peasants, who were about to organise against 
the rich and the profiteers, against the people to whom 
intellectuals like Groman and Cherevanin are wittingly or 
unwittingly preaching profiteers' slogans, when these 
workers, led astray, advocate the free sale of grain and 
the importing of freight transport, we say that this means 
helping the kulaks out of a hole! That path we shall never 
take. We declare that we shall rely on the working elements, 
with the help of whom we achieved the October victory, and 
that only together with our own class, and only by estab- 
lishing proletarian discipline among all sections of the work- 



ing population, shall we be able to solve the historic tasks 
now confronting us. 

We have vast difficulties to overcome. We shall have 
to gather up all surpluses and stocks, properly distribute 
them and properly organise transportation for tens of mil- 
lions of people. We shall have to see that the work proceeds 
with the regularity of clockwork. We shall have to over- 
come the disruption which is being fostered by the profiteers 
and by the doubters, who are spreading panic. This task 
of organisation can be accomplished only by the class-con- 
scious workers, meeting the practical difficulties face to 
face. It is worth devoting all one's energies to this task; 
it is worth engaging in this last, decisive fight. And in this 
fight we shall win. (Applause.) 

Comrades, the recent decrees on the measures taken by 
the Soviet government 162 show us that the path of the pro- 
letarian dictatorship, as every socialist who is a real socialist 
can see, will obviously and undoubtedly involve severe trials. 

The recent decrees deal with the fundamental problem 
of life — bread. They are all inspired by three guiding ideas. 
First, the idea of centralisation: the uniting of everybody 
for the performance of the common task under leadership 
from the centre. We must prove that we are serious and not 
give way to despondency, we must reject the services of the 
bag-traders and merge all the forces of the proletariat; for 
in the struggle against the famine we rely on the oppressed 
classes and we see the solution only in their energetic 
resistance to all exploiters, in uniting all their activities. 

Yes, we are told that the grain monopoly is being under- 
mined by bag-trading and profiteering on every hand. 
We frequently hear the intellectuals say that the bag-trad- 
ers are helping us, are feeding us. Yes, but the bag-traders 
are feeding us on kulak lines: they are doing just what is 
needed to establish, strengthen and perpetuate the power 
of the kulaks, to enable those who have power to extend 
that power over those around them with the help of their 
profits and through various individuals. And we assert 
that if the forces of those whose chief sin at the present mo- 
ment is their lack of belief were to be united, the fight would 
he considerably easier. If there ever existed a revolutionary 
who hoped that we could pass to the socialist system with 



out difficulties, such a revolutionary, such a socialist, 
would not be worth a brass farthing. 

We know that the transition from capitalism to socialism 
is a struggle of an extremely difficult kind. But we are 
prepared to overcome a thousand difficulties, we are prepared 
to make a thousand attempts; and having made a thousand 
attempts we shall go on to the next attempt. We are now 
enlisting all the Soviet organisations in this new creative 
life, we are getting them to display new energies. We count 
on overcoming the new difficulties with the help of new 
strata, by organising the poor peasants and now I shall 
pass to the second main task. 

I have said that the first idea that runs through all these 
decrees is that of centralisation. Only by collecting all the 
grain in common bag shall we be able to overcome the 
famine. And even then grain will barely suffice. Nothing 
is left of Russia's former abundance, and all minds must 
be deeply imbued with communism, so that everybody 
regards surplus grain as the property of the people and is 
alive to the interests of the working people. And this can 
be achieved only by the method proposed by the Soviet 

When they tell us of other methods, we reply as we did at 
the session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee.* 
When they talked of other methods, we said: Go to Skoro- 
padsky, to the bourgeoisie. Teach them your methods, such 
as raising grain prices or forming a bloc with the kulaks. 
There you will find willing ears. But the Soviet government 
says only one thing, that the difficulties are immense and 
you must respond to every difficulty by new efforts of 
organisation and discipline. Such difficulties cannot be over- 
come in a single month. There have been cases in the his- 
tory of nations when decades were devoted to overcoming 
smaller difficulties, and these decades have gone down in 
history as great and fruitful decades. You will never cause 
us to despond by referring to the failures of the first half- 
year or the first year of a great revolution. We shall continue 
to utter our old slogan of centralisation, unity and pro- 
letarian discipline on an all-Russia scale. 

See this volume, pp. 365-81.— Ed. 



When they say to us, as Groman says in his report, that 
"the detachments you have sent to collect grain are taking 
to drink and are themselves becoming moonshiners and 
robbers", we reply that we are fully aware how frequently 
this is the case. We do not conceal such facts, we 
do not whitewash them, we do not try to avoid them with 
pseudo-Left phrases and intentions. No, the working class 
is not separated by a Chinese wall from the old bourgeois 
society. And when a revolution takes place, it does not 
happen as in the case of the death of an individual, when 
the deceased is simply removed. When the old society 
perishes, its corpse cannot be nailed up in a coffin and 
lowered into the grave. It disintegrates in our midst; the 
corpse rots and infects us. 

No great revolution has ever proceeded otherwise; no 
great revolution can proceed otherwise. The very things we 
have to combat in order to preserve and develop the sprouts 
of the new order in an atmosphere infested with the miasmas 
of a decaying corpse, the literary and political atmosphere, 
the play of political parties, which from the Constitutional- 
Democrats to the Mensheviks are infested with these miasmas 
of a decaying corpse, are all going to be used against us to 
put a spoke in our wheel. A socialist revolution can never be 
engendered in any other way; and not a single country can 
pass from capitalism to socialism except in an atmosphere 
of disintegrating capitalism and of painful struggle against 
it. And so we say that our first slogan is centralisation and 
our second slogan is the unity of the workers. Workers, 
unite and unite again! That is not new, it may not sound 
sensational or novel. It does not promise the specious suc- 
cesses with which you are being tempted by people like 
Kerensky, who in August 1917 doubled prices, just as the 
German bourgeois has raised them to twice and even ten 
times their level. These people promise you direct and imme- 
diate successes, as long as you offer new inducements to the 
kulaks. Of course that is not the road we shall follow. We 
say that our second method may be an old method, but it 
is a permanent method: Unite! (Applause.) 

We are in a difficult situation. The Soviet Republic is 
perhaps passing through one of its most arduous periods. 
New strata of workers will come to our aid. We have no 



police, we shall not have a special military caste, we have 
no other apparatus than the conscious unity of the workers. 
They will save Russia from her desperate and tremendously 
difficult situation. (Applause.) The workers must unite, 
workers' detachments must be organised, the hungry people 
from the non-agricultural districts must be organised — it 
is to them we turn for help, it is to them our Commissariat 
for Food appeals, it is they we call upon to join the crusade 
for bread, the crusade against the profiteers and the kulaks 
and for the restoration of order. 

A crusade used to be a campaign in which physical force was 
supplemented by faith in something which centuries ago people 
were compelled by torture to regard as sacred. But we desire, 
we think, we are convinced, we know that the October Revolu- 
tion has led the advanced workers and the advanced repre- 
sentatives of the poor peasants to regard the preservation 
of their power over the landowners and capitalists as sacred. 
(Applause.) They know that physical force is not enough to 
influence the masses of the population. We need physical 
force because we are building a dictatorship, we are applying 
force to the exploiters, and we shall cast aside with con- 
tempt all who fail to understand this, so as not to waste 
words in talking about the form of socialism. (Applause.) 

We say that a new historical task is confronting us. 
We must get the new historical class to understand that we 
need detachments of agitators from among the workers. We 
need workers from the various uyezds of the non-producing 
gubernias. We need them to go thence as conscious advocates 
of Soviet power; they must sanctify and legitimise our 
food war, our war against the kulaks, our war against 
disorders; they must make possible the carrying on of socialist 
propaganda; they must establish in the countryside the dis- 
tinction between the poor and the rich, which every peas- 
ant can understand and which is a profound source of our 
strength. It is a source which it is difficult to get to flow at 
full pressure, because the exploiters are numerous. And 
these exploiters resort to the most varied methods in order 
to subjugate the masses, such as bribing the poor peasants 
by permitting the latter to make money out of illicit distill- 
ing or to make a profit of several rubles on every ruble by 
selling at profiteering prices. Such are the methods to which 



the kulaks and the rural bourgeoisie resort in order to 
establish their hold over the masses. 

We cannot blame the poor peasants for this, for we know 
that they have been enslaved for hundreds, thousands of 
years, that they have suffered from serfdom and from the 
system which was left by serfdom in Russia. Our approach to 
the poor peasants must consist not only in the guns directed 
against the kulaks, but also in the propaganda of enlightened 
workers who bring the strength of their organisation into the 
countryside. Representatives of the poor, unite! — that is 
our third slogan. This is not making advances to the kulaks, 
and it is not the senseless method of raising prices. If we 
were to double prices, they would say: "They are raising 
prices. They are hungry. Wait a bit, they will raise prices 
still higher." 

It is a well-trodden path, this path of playing up to 
the kulaks and profiteers. It is easy to take this path and 
to hold out tempting prospects. Intellectuals, who call 
themselves socialists, are quite prepared to paint such 
prospects for us; and the number of such intellectuals is 
legion. But we say to you: "You who wish to follow the 
Soviet government, you who value it and regard it as a 
government of the working people, as a government of the 
exploited class, on you we call to follow another path". 
This new historical task is a difficult thing. If we accom- 
plish it, we shall raise a new stratum, give a new form of 
organisation to those sections of the working and exploited 
people, who are mostly downtrodden and ignorant, 
who are least united and have still to be united. 

All over the world the foremost contingents of the workers 
of the cities, the industrial workers, have united, and united 
unanimously. But hardly anywhere in the world have sys- 
tematic, supreme and self-sacrificing attempts been made 
to unite those who are engaged in small-scale agricultural 
production and, because they live in remote out-of-the-way 
places and in ignorance, have been stunted by their condi- 
tions of life. The task that faces us here unites for a single 
purpose both the fight against the food shortage and the 
fight for the profound and important system of socialism. 
The fight for socialism which faces us now is one to which 
it is worth devoting all our energies, for which it is worth 



staking everything, because it is a fight for socialism {ap- 
plause), because it is a fight for the state power of the working 
and exploited people. 

In following this path we shall regard the working peasants 
as our allies. Solid achievements await us along this path, 
not only solid, but inalienable. That is our third significant 

Such are the three fundamental slogans: centralisation 
of food work, unity of the proletariat and organisation of 
the poor peasants. And our appeal, the appeal of our Commis- 
sariat for Food, to every trade union, to every factory com- 
mittee, says: Life is hard for you, comrades; then help us, 
join your efforts to ours, punish every breach of the regula- 
tions, every evasion of the grain monopoly. It is a difficult 
task; but fight bag-trading, profiteering and the kulaks, 
again and again, a hundred times, a thousand times, and we 
shall win. For this is the path on to which the majority of 
the workers are being led by the whole course of their lives 
and by the severity of our failures and trials in the matter 
of food supply. They know that, whereas when there was 
still no absolute shortage of grain in Russia the shortcomings 
of the food supply organisations were corrected by individ- 
ual and isolated actions, this can no longer be the case now. 
Only the joint effort and the unity of those who are suffering 
most in the hungry cities and gubernias can help us. That 
is the path the Soviet government is calling on you to fol- 
low — unity of the workers, of their vanguard, for the pur- 
pose of carrying on agitation in the villages and of waging 
a war for grain against the kulaks. 

According to the calculations of the most cautious experts, 
not far from Moscow, in gubernias quite close by — Kursk, 
Orel and Tambov — there is still a surplus of up to ten mil- 
lion poods of grain. We are very far from being able to col- 
lect this surplus for the common state fund. 

Let us set about this task energetically. Let an enlight- 
ened worker go to every factory where despair is temporarily 
in the ascendant, and where, driven by hunger, people are 
prepared to accept the specious slogans of those who are 
reverting to the methods of Kerensky, to an increase of the 
fixed prices, and let him say: "We see people who are 
despairing of the Soviet government. Join our detachments of 



militant agitators. Do not be dismayed by the many cases 
in which these detachments have disintegrated and turned 
to drink. We shall use every such example to show not that 
the working class is not fit, but that the working class has 
still not rid itself of the shortcomings of the old predatory 
society and cannot rid itself of them at once. Let us unite 
our efforts, let us form dozens of detachments, let us combine 
their activities, and in this way we shall get rid of our short- 

Comrades, allow me in conclusion to draw your attention 
to some of the telegrams which are being received by the 
Council of People's Commissars and particularly by our 
Commissariat for Food. 

Comrades, in this matter of the food crisis, of the tor- 
ments of hunger that are afflicting all our cities, we observe 
that, as the proverb says, ill news hath wings. I should like 
to read you certain documents which were received by So- 
viet government bodies and institutions after the issue of 
the decree of May 13 on the food dictatorship, in which it 
is stated that we continue to rely only on the proletariat. 
The telegrams indicate that in the provinces they have 
already started to organise the crusade against the kulaks and 
to organise the rural poor, as we proposed. The telegrams we 
have received are proof of this. 

Let the Cherevanins and the Gromans blow their trumpets, 
let their raucous voices sow panic and demand the destruc- 
tion and abolition of the Soviet government! Those who 
are hard at work will be least disturbed by this; they will 
see the facts, they will see that the work is progressing and 
that new ranks are forming and uniting. 

A new form of struggle against the kulaks is emerging, 
namely, an alliance of the poor peasants, who need assist- 
ance and who need to be united. It is proposed that awards 
be given for deliveries of grain, and we must help. We 
are willing to make such awards to the poor peasants, 
and we have already begun to do so. But against the kulaks, 
the criminals who are subjecting the population to the tor- 
ments of hunger, and on account of whom millions of people 
are suffering, against them we shall use force. We shall 
give every possible inducement to the rural poor, for they 
are entitled to it. The poor peasant has for the first time 



obtained access to the good things of life, and we see that he 
is living more meagerly than the worker. We shall encourage 
and give every possible inducement to the poor peasants 
and shall help them if they help us to organise the collection 
of grain, to secure grain from the kulaks. We must spare no 
resources to make that a reality in Russia. 

We have already adopted this course, and it will be still 
further developed by the experience of every enlightened 
worker and by the new detachments. 

Comrades, the work has been started and is progressing. 
We do not expect dazzling success, but success there cer- 
tainly will be. We know that we are now entering a period 
of new destruction, one of the most severe and difficult 
periods of the revolution. We are not in the least surprised 
that counter-revolution is raising its head, that the number 
of waverers and despairers in our ranks is growing. We say: 
stop your wavering; abandon your despair, of which the bour- 
geoisie will take advantage, because it is in its interests to 
sow panic; get to work; with our food decrees and our plan 
based on the support of the poor peasants we are on the only 
right road. In the face of the new historical tasks we call 
upon you to make a new exertion of effort. This task is an 
infinitely difficult one, but, I repeat, it is an extremely 
rewarding one. We are here fighting for the basis of communist 
distribution and for the actual creation of the foundations 
of a communist society. Let us all set to work. We shall 
vanquish the famine and achieve socialism. (Applause.) 




JUNE 4, 1918 

Comrades, the speeches of the representatives of the 
various groups have, in my opinion, shown what might have 
been expected. 

Notwithstanding the differences that exist between the 
Bolsheviks and certain other parties and groups, we have 
convinced ourselves that the tremendous enthusiasm of the 
masses is uniting them in the struggle against the famine, 
and not only the Bolshevik organisations. And we have no 
doubt that the further the struggle against the famine pro- 
ceeds and the more the counter-revolutionaries hiding 
behind the Czechoslovak and other bands show their faces, 
the more actively will the supporters of the Bolsheviks — the 
workers and the working peasant masses — dissociate them- 
selves from those enemies, whatever they may call 
themselves, whose arguments we are disputing. These 
enemies go on using the old, hackneyed arguments about 
the Brest peace and the civil war, as though during 
the three months that have elapsed since the Brest peace 
was concluded events had not convincingly borne out the 
views of those who said that only the tactics of the Commu- 
nists could bring the people peace and leave them free for 
the work of organising and uniting their forces in preparation 
for the new and great wars which are now about to take place, 
this time under different conditions. The events fully show 
that the European proletariat, which at that time was not 
yet in a position to come to our aid, is now with every month — 
that can be said today without exaggeration — approaching 



the point when the necessity for revolt will be fully realised 
and revolt become inevitable. Events have fully shown that 
we had only one choice, namely, to accept a forced and 
predatory peace. 

Every thinking person felt that the resolution moved by 
the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries at the Fourth Congress 
of Soviets was counter-revolutionary 163 ; and every thinking 
person must feel the same about the resolution of the Menshe- 
viks, who to this day keep crying, "Down with the Brest 
peace!" and who pretend they do not know that in doing so 
they actually want to embroil us in a war with the German 
bourgeoisie through the Czechoslovak mutineers 164 and 
agents hired for the purpose. 

It is not worth while dwelling on the accusations that 
the Communists are responsible for the famine. We had the 
same thing during the October Revolution. No socialist or 
anarchist, call him what you will, who has not taken leave 
of his senses will venture to get up at any meeting and 
assert that socialism can be reached without civil war. 

You may examine all the publications of all the more or 
less responsible socialist parties, factions and groups, 
and you will not find a single responsible and serious 
socialist saying anything so absurd as that socialism can 
ever come except through civil war, or that the landowners 
and capitalists will voluntarily surrender their privileges. 
That would be naive to the point of stupidity. And now, 
after the bourgeoisie and its supporters have suffered a 
number of defeats, we hear admissions like that of Bogayev- 
sky, for example, who on the Don had the best soil in Rus- 
sia for counter-revolution, but who has also admitted that 
the majority of the people are against them — and therefore 
no subversive activities of the bourgeoisie will be of any 
avail without the aid of foreign bayonets. Yet the Bolshe- 
viks are being attacked here for the civil war. That is 
tantamount to going over to the counter-revolutionary 
bourgeoisie, no matter what slogans are used to mask the 

As before the revolution, so now, we say that when 
international capital throws war on to the scales of history, 
when hundreds of thousands of people are perishing, and when 
war is remoulding people's habits and accustoming them to 



settle issues by armed force, to think that we can emerge 
from the war in any other way than by converting it into a 
civil war is more than strange. And what is brewing in 
Austria, in Italy, in Germany shows that civil war in those 
countries will assume even keener forms, will be even more 
acute. There is no other way for socialism; and whoever 
wages war on socialism, betrays socialism completely. 

As to food measures, it has been said that I have not 
dwelt on them in detail. But that was not part of my task. 
The report on the food question has been made by my col- 
leagues, 165 who have been specially working on that prob- 
lem, and doing so not for months but for years, studying 
it not only in the offices of Petrograd and Moscow, but in 
the provinces, and making a practical study of how to store 
grain, how to fit up the granaries, and so on. These reports 
were made to the All-Russia Central Executive Committee 
and to the Moscow Soviet, and there you will find the mate- 
rial on the subject. As to specific criticism and practical 
recommendations, that was not part of my task. My task was 
to outline the principles of the problem that faces us, and I 
have not heard here any criticism worthy of any attention 
or any sensible objection worthy of examination from the 
standpoint of principle. And let me say in conclusion, com- 
rades, that I am convinced, in fact I am sure, that this will 
be the conviction of the vast majority, for the purpose of 
our meeting is not to adopt a definite resolution — although, 
of course, that, too, is important, because it will show that the 
proletariat is capable of uniting its forces; but this is not 
enough, it is very, very far from enough — what we have to 
do now is to tackle practical problems. 

We know, and our worker comrades know it especially, 
that at every step in practical life, in every factory, at 
every meeting, at every chance gathering in the streets, 
this same question of the famine is brought up, and in ever 
more acute forms. And therefore our chief task should be 
to make this meeting, too, where we have assembled with 
representatives from the All-Russia Central Executive Com- 
mittee, the Moscow Soviet and the trade unions, the start- 
ing-point for a radical change in all our practical work. 
Everything else must be entirely subordinated to the suc- 
cess of our propaganda, agitation and organisational work 



in combating famine, that must be put before everything 
else and completely merged with the proletarian and ruth- 
lessly firm war on the kulaks and profiteers. 

Our Commissariat for Food has already appealed to the 
factory committees, the trade unions and the big proletarian 
centres, where we are operating directly, to those close 
and numerous links which unite the Moscow workers with 
hundreds of thousands of organised factory workers in all 
the big industrial districts. 

All the more must we make use of them. 

The situation is critical. Famine is not only threatening, 
it is already upon us. Every worker, every Party functionary 
must at once make it his practical job to change the funda- 
mental trend of his activities. 

Out into the factories, among the masses, all of you! 
Tackle the practical job at once! It will give us a host of 
practical hints as to far more fertile methods, and at the 
same time will help to discover and promote new forces. 
With the aid of these new forces we shall launch the work 
on a broad scale, and we are firmly convinced that the three 
months, which will be far more difficult than the preceding 
ones, will serve to steel our forces and will lead us to complete 
victory over famine and help to realise all the plans of 
the Soviet government. (Applause.) 




JUNE 4, 1918 166 

This joint meeting draws the attention of all workers 
and working peasants to the fact that the famine which has 
overtaken many parts of the country demands of us the most 
vigorous and determined measures to combat this calamity. 

The enemies of Soviet power, the landowners, capitalists 
and kulaks and their numerous hangers-on, want to take 
advantage of the calamity to engineer revolts, aggravate the 
chaos and disorder, overthrow the Soviet government, re- 
surrect the old system of servitude and slavery for the work- 
ing people, and restore the power of the landowners and 
capitalists, as has been done in the Ukraine. 

Only the utmost exertion of all the efforts of the working 
class and the working peasantry can save the country from 
famine and safeguard the gains of the revolution from the 
attacks of the exploiting classes. 

This joint meeting considers that the firm policy pursued 
by the Soviet government in combating the famine is an 
absolutely correct policy and the only correct one. 

Only the strictest revolutionary order in every sphere of 
activity, and especially on the railways and in the water 
transport system, only the strictest discipline among the 
workers, and their self-sacrificing aid in the form of 
detachments of agitators and fighters against the bourgeoisie 
and the kulaks, and only the independent organisation of 
the rural poor can save the country and the revolution. 

This joint meeting urgently appeals to all workers and 
peasants to set about this work, and by concerted and united 
effort to vanquish chaos, disorder and unco-ordinated effort. 

Published according to 
the manuscript 


JUNE 5, 1918 


{The Congress gave Lenin a rousing welcome.) Lenin greet- 
ed the Congress on behalf of the Council of People's Com- 
missars and said that the teachers, who had at first been 
rather slow in making up their minds to work with the So- 
viet government, were now growing more and more convinced 
that such collaboration was essential. Such cases of con- 
version from opposition to support of the Soviet government 
were very numerous among other sections of society too. 

The army of teachers must set themselves tremendous 
tasks in the educational sphere, and above all must form the 
main army of socialist education. Life and knowledge must 
be liberated from the sway of capital, from the yoke of the 
bourgeoisie. The teachers must not confine themselves to 
narrow pedagogical duties. They must join forces with the 
entire body of the embattled working people. The task of 
the new pedagogics was to link up teaching activities with 
the socialist organisation of society. 

It had to be admitted that the majority of the intellec- 
tuals of the old Russia were downright opponents of the Soviet 
regime, and there was no doubt that it would be not at all 
easy to overcome the difficulties this involved. The process 
of fermentation among the broad mass of the teachers had 
only just begun, and no schoolteacher who had the welfare 
of the people sincerely at heart could confine himself to the 
All-Russia Teachers' Union, but must confidently carry his 



propaganda among the masses. This road would lead to a 
joint struggle of the proletariat and the teachers for the 
victory of socialism. {Lenin left the hall amidst general 

Newspaper report published 
on June 6, 1918 in 
Izvestia VTsIK No. 114, 

Published according to 
the text of the Transactions 
of the All-Russia Union of 
Internationalist Teachers 
No. 1, 1918 





I have received Stalin's third telegram and note. We are 
taking all measures. Tsyurupa says money will be sent 
tomorrow without fail, and orders have been given for the 
goods to be loaded today. Send through trains with a triple 
guard. Arrest saboteurs and hooligans and send them here. 

Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars 


Written not later than June 11, 

First published in 1931 
in Lenin Miscellany XVIII 

Published according to 
the manuscript 




JUNE 20, 1918 


From my visits to working-class areas in Moscow I have 
gained the firm conviction that the idea of the need to form 
food detachments has spread through the entire mass of the 
workers. A "distrustful" attitude is shown only by the 
print workers, who usually live better than the other workers, 
paid for by the bourgeoisie which is poisoning the minds 
of the poor with its newspaper slanders. The class-conscious 
attitude of the broad mass of the workers to such a basic 
issue of the Russian revolution as the struggle against 
famine gives me grounds for believing that socialist 
Russia will successfully survive all temporary failures and 
the devastation of the old regime. Even if we do not succeed 
in speedily dealing with the Czechoslovaks (which is most 
improbable), the large stocks of grain hidden by the kulaks 
in Voronezh, Orel and Tambov gubernias will enable us 
to get through the last two difficult months before the new 
harvest. The food problem is the most urgent problem of 
our revolution. All workers without exception must under- 
stand that the struggle for grain is their own vital concern. 

The task undertaken by the food detachments is only 
that of helping to collect grain surpluses from the kulaks, 
and not (as our enemies are trying in advance to frighten 
the countryside into believing) to plunder all and sundry in 
the countryside.... Manufactured goods, thread and household 
and agricultural articles will definitely be provided in 
return for grain. 



Steps will be taken to make it impossible for the detach- 
ments sent to the countryside to be joined by hooligans 
and swindlers, who always endeavour to fish in muddy 
waters. It is better to send fewer people, but ones who are 
suitable for the job. 

It is true there have been cases of detachments being 
infiltrated by unstable, weak-willed workers, whom the 
kulaks have bribed with home-distilled vodka. But atten- 
tion has been paid to this.... It is necessary to have accurate 
information of the past history of every worker going with 
a detachment. Inquiries must be made in the factory commit- 
tee, the trade union and also in Party cells, as to the person- 
al character of everyone whom the working class entrusts 
with such an important task. 

Party comrades in many factories are unwilling to accept 
"non-Party" people in the detachment. This is quite wrong. 
A person who is "non-Party", but completely honest and 
with no stain on his reputation, can be a very valuable com- 
rade in the starving people's campaign for grain. 

To class-conscious detachments of this kind the Council 
of People's Commissars will give the broadest assistance by 
providing money and manufactured goods, and also arms. 

What matters is that the workers should actively and with 
the utmost speed take up their own vital cause — the struggle 
against famine!... 

Bednota No. 69, 
June 21, 1918 

Published according to 
the Bednota text 


JUNE 21, 1918 


Our Party has decided to hold as many public meetings 
today in Moscow as possible with the object of drawing the 
attention of the working class to the situation in which the 
Soviet government is placed and to the efforts it will have 
to make in order to cope successfully with the present 

You know that in these past few months, and even weeks, 
counter-revolution has raised its head. The Right Socialist- 
Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks are accusing the Soviet 
government of betraying Russia to the German imperialists. 

However, we are perfectly aware of what has been taking 
place in the Caucasus, where the Caucasian Mensheviks 
have concluded an alliance with the Turkish imperialists, 
and in the Ukraine, where the Ukrainian Right Socialist- 
Revolutionaries have concluded an alliance with the German 
imperialists. And what is more, comrades, not only have 
they reduced all the achievements of Soviet power to naught 
in these regions, not only are they arresting and shooting 
workers, not only have they deprived them of all their gains, 
but they have even set a Skoropadsky in the saddle. These 
measures, of course, will not win them the sympathy of the 
working class. That is why the counter-revolutionaries are 
now trying to make the most out of the fatigue of the Rus- 
sian people, out of the famine. They are making a last 
attempt to overthrow the Soviet government. 

Now they are clutching at the Czechoslovaks, who, it 
should be said, are by no means hostile to the Soviet 



government. It is not the Czechoslovaks, but their counter- 
revolutionary officers who are hostile to the Soviet govern- 
ment. With the help of these officers, the imperialists are 
trying to drag Russia into the world slaughter which is 
still going on. 

And it is a characteristic thing that wherever the power 
passes into the hands of the Mensheviks and the Right 
Socialist-Revolutionaries, we at once find that they want to 
bestow upon us some Skoropadsky or other. And as soon as 
the masses realise where the Mensheviks and Right Socialist- 
Revolutionaries have led them, the latter are left without 
the support of the masses. 

They are left without support. Then, as a last hope, they 
begin to speculate on famine, and when that too fails, they 
do not shrink even from treacherous assassination. 

You all know that Comrade Volodarsky, an old Party 
worker, who paid for his convictions by suffering and hard- 
ships, has been assassinated. It is quite possible of course 
that they may succeed in assassinating a few more active 
members of the Soviet government, but that will only 
serve to anchor it in the affections of the masses and rouse 
us to hold on even more firmly to our gains. 

Today there are two factors which render the position 
of the Soviet Republic particularly grave: famine and the 
international situation. 

The international situation is grave because the German, 
French and British imperialists are only waiting for an 
opportune moment to fling themselves once more on the 
Soviet Republic. The task of our Party is to throw off the 
yoke of capitalism; this can only be done by an international 
revolution. But, comrades, you must realise that revolutions 
are not made to order. We realise that the position of the 
Russian Republic is that the Russian working class has been 
the first to succeed in throwing off the yoke of capital and 
the bourgeoisie, and we realise that it has succeeded in 
this, not because it is more advanced and perfect than 
others, but because our country is a most backward one. 

Capitalism will be finally overthrown when at least a few 
other countries join in this assault. And we know that in 
all countries, in spite of a most rigorous censorship, we 
have succeeded in this much, that at all meetings the mere 



mention of the Communist Party and of the Russian Republic 
evokes an outburst of enthusiasm. (Loud applause.) 

And we say that as long as the world carnage continues 
over there in the West, we are secure. Whatever the conse- 
quences of the war may be, it is bound to call forth revolution, 
which will be, and is, our ally. 

After describing the grave position of Soviet Russia, 
surrounded as it is by enemies without and attacked by 
counter-revolution at home, Lenin passed to the subject of 
the famine. 

Our revolution strikes terror into the imperialist classes, 
for they are clearly aware that their existence depends on 
whether capitalism manages to hold on or not, and we 
must therefore stand fast and march shoulder to shoulder 
with the class with which we won the October Revolution. 

It is with this same class that we are marching in the 
fight against the famine. 

From now on, for one, one and a half or two months — the 
most difficult of all — we must exert all of our strength and 

There have been moments in the life of nations before 
now when state power passed into the hands of the working 
class; but it was never able to retain it. We, however, can 
retain it, for we have our Soviet government, which unites 
a working class that has taken its cause into its own hands. 

However grave our position may be, whatever plots the 
Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Czechoslovaks may 
hatch, we know that there is grain available even in the 
provinces surrounding the capital. And we must secure this 
grain by preserving and strengthening the alliance between 
the working class and the poor peasants. 

Detachments of Red Army men leave the capital with 
the best intentions in the world, but, on arriving at their 
destination, they sometimes succumb to the temptations of 
looting and drunkenness. For this we have to blame the four 
years of carnage, which kept men in the trenches for so long 
and compelled them to slaughter each other like wild beasts. 
This bestiality is to be observed in all countries. Years 
will pass before men cease to act like beasts and resume 
human shape. 

We appeal to the workers to let us have men. 



When I read a report to the effect that in Usman 
Uyezd, Tambov Gubernia, a food detachment turned over 
to the poor peasants 3,000 of the 6,000 poods of grain it 
had requisitioned, I declare that even if you were to prove 
to me that to this day there has been only one such detach- 
ment in Russia, I should still say that the Soviet government 
is doing its job. 169 For in no other country in the world will 
you find such a detachment! (Loud applause.) 

The bourgeoisie is fully conscious of its interests and is 
doing its utmost to safeguard them. It knows that if this 
autumn, for the first time in many centuries, the peasants 
reap the fruits of their own labour in the shape of the crop, 
and keep the working class of the town supplied, all its 
hopes of restoration will collapse and the Soviet government 
will be strengthened. That is why the bourgeoisie is now 
displaying such feverish activity. 

We must bend all our efforts to combat the rich peasants, 
the profiteers and the urban bourgeoisie. 

One of the greatest drawbacks of our revolution is the 
timidity of our workers, who are still convinced that the 
only people capable of governing the state are their "bet- 
ters" — their betters in the art of robbery. 

But there are fine workers in every mill and factory. 
No matter if they do not belong to the Party — you must 
weld them together and unite them, and the state will do 
everything in its power to help them in their difficult work, 
(Loud applause.) 

Izvestia VTsIK No. 127 and 128, Published according to 

June 22 and 23, 1918; the Izvestia text, 

Pravda No. 126, June 23, 1918 collated with the Pravda text 



In view of the fact that it is too late to send a delegate 
from the Commissariat for Food to the Congress, I request 
you to bring the following to the attention of the Congress. 
Delegates to the Congress who support the Soviet government 
should remember, firstly, that the grain monopoly is being 
enforced simultaneously with a monopoly on textiles and 
on other staple articles of general consumption, and, second- 
ly, that the demand for the abolition of the grain monopoly 
is a political move on the part of counter-revolutionary 
strata, who are endeavouring to wrench from the hands of 
the revolutionary proletariat the system of monopoly regu- 
lation of prices, one of the most important implements for 
the gradual transition from capitalist exchange of commodi- 
ties to socialist exchange of products. Explain to the Con- 
gress that as a method of combating the food shortage the abo- 
lition of the monopoly would be not only useless but harmful, 
as is shown by the Ukraine, where Skoropadsky has abol- 
ished the grain monopoly and as a result profiteering in grain 
has within a few days achieved such proportions that the 
Ukrainian proletariat is now suffering from famine far more 
acutely than under the monopoly. 

Point out that the only effective method of increasing 
bread rations is contained in the decision of the Council 
of People's Commissars to requisition grain forcibly from 
the kulaks and to distribute it among the poor of the cities 
-and the countryside. This requires that the poor shall much 
more rapidly and resolutely enlist in the food army which 
is being created by the People's Commissariat for Food. 

Propose that the Congress immediately start agitating 
among the workers to enlist ill the food army formed by the 



Penza Soviet of Deputies and to abide by the following 

1) Every factory shall provide one person for every twenty- 
five of its workers. 

2) Registration of those desiring to enlist in the food 
army shall be conducted by the factory committee, which 
shall draw up a list of the names of those mobilised, in two 
copies, one of which it shall deliver to the People's Commis- 
sariat for Food while retaining the other. 

3) To the list must be attached a guarantee given by 
the factory committee, or by the trade union organisation, 
or by a Soviet body, or by responsible representatives of 
Soviet organisations, testifying to the personal honesty and 
revolutionary discipline of every candidate. Members of the 
food army must be selected so that there will not in future 
be a single stain on the names of those who are setting out 
for the villages to combat the handful of predatory kulaks 
and save millions of toilers from starvation. 

Comrades, workers, only if this condition is observed 
will it be obvious to all that the requisition of grain from 
the kulaks is not robbery but the fulfilment of a revolution- 
ary duty to the worker and peasant masses who are fighting 
for socialism! 

4) In every factory those mobilised shall elect a rep- 
resentative from their midst to perform all the organisation- 
al measures necessary for the actual enrolment of the can- 
didates of the factory as members of the food army by the 
People's Commissariat. 

5) Those enrolled in the army shall receive their former 
pay as well as food and equipment from the date of actual 

6) Those enrolled in the army shall give a pledge that 
they will unreservedly carry out any instructions that 
may be given by the People's Commissariat for Food when 
the detachments leave for their place of operation, 
and that they will obey the commissars of the detach- 

I am certain that if convinced socialists loyal to the 
October Revolution are placed at the head of the food 
requisition detachments, they will be able to organise Poor 
Peasants' Committees 171 and by their concerted action 



succeed in taking grain from the kulaks even without resort 
to armed force. 

Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars 
June 27, 1918 Lenin 

Published on July 1918 Published according to 

in the magazine Bulletin the magazine text 

of the People's Commissariat 
for Food No. 10-11 


JUNE 27-JULY 2, 1918 

Brief reports published on 
June 28, 1918 in Pravda No. 130 
and Izvestia VTsIK No. 132 
Full report published in 1918 
in the book: Minutes 
of the Fourth Conference 
of Factory Committees 
and Trade Unions of Moscow , 
A.C.C.T.U. Publishers 

Published according to 
the text of the book, 
collated with the verbatim report 



JUNE 27, 1918 

Comrades, you all know, of course, of the great disaster 
that has befallen our country, namely, famine. Before 
discussing the measures to be adopted to combat this disas- 
ter, which has now become more acute than ever, we must 
first of all discuss its main causes. In discussing this ques- 
tion we must say to ourselves, and remember, that this 
disaster has befallen not only Russia, but all, even the most 
cultured, advanced and civilised countries. 

In Russia, where the overwhelming majority of the 
peasantry were ruined and oppressed by the yoke of the 
tsars, the landowners and capitalists, famine more than once 
in the past few decades affected whole regions of our agrar- 
ian country. And it has affected us particularly now, 
during the revolution. But this disaster reigns also in the 
West-European countries. Many of these countries had 
not known what famine was for decades and even centuries, 
so highly was agriculture developed there, and to such an 
extent were those European countries which could not pro- 
duce a sufficient supply of grain of their own assured of an 
enormous quantity of imported grain. But now, in the 
twentieth century, side by side with still greater progress 
in technology, side by side with wonderful inventions, side 
by side with the wide application of machinery and elec- 
tricity, of modern internal combustion engines in agricul- 
ture, side by side with all this we now see this same disaster 
of famine advancing upon the people in all European coun- 
tries without exception. It would seem that despite civilisa- 
tion, despite culture, the countries are once again returning 



to primitive savagery are again experiencing a situation 
when morals deteriorate and people become brutalised in 
the struggle for a crust of bread. What has caused this 
return to savagery in a number of European countries, in the 
majority of them? We all know that it has been caused by 
the imperialist war, by the war which has been torturing 
humanity for four years, a war which has already cost the 
peoples more, far more than ten million young lives, a war 
which was called forth by the avarice of the capitalists, a 
war which is being waged to decide which of the great rob- 
bers — the British or the German — shall rule the world, 
acquire colonies and strangle the small nations. 

This war, which has affected almost the whole of the 
globe, which has destroyed not less than ten million lives, 
not counting the millions of maimed, crippled and sick, 
this war which, in addition, has torn millions of the health- 
iest and best forces from productive labour — this war has 
reduced humanity to a state of absolute savagery. What 
numerous socialist writers foresaw as the worst, most pain- 
ful and most unbearable end of capitalism has come to pass. 
They said: capitalist society, based on the private owner- 
ship of the land, the factories and tools by a handful of 
capitalists, of monopolists, will be transformed into social- 
ist society, which alone is capable of putting an end to war, 
because the "civilised", "cultured" capitalist world is 
heading for unprecedented bankruptcy, which is capable of 
undermining and will inevitably undermine all the founda- 
tions of cultured life. I repeat, we see famine not only in 
Russia, but in the most cultured, advanced countries, like 
Germany, where the productivity of labour is incomparably 
greater, which can supply the world with more than a suf- 
ficiency of technical appliances, and which, still maintain- 
ing free intercourse with remote countries, can supply her 
population with food. The famine there is incomparably 
better "organised", it is spread over a longer period than 
in Russia, but it is famine nevertheless, still more severe 
and more painful than here. Capitalism has led to such a 
severe and painful disaster that it is now perfectly clear 
to all that the present war cannot end without a number of 
most severe and bloody revolutions, of which the Russian 
revolution was only the first, only the beginning. 



You have now received news to the effect that in Vienna 
for example, an Arbeiterrat has been established for the 
second time, and for the second time the working population 
have come out on an almost general mass strike. 173 We 
hear that in cities like Berlin, which up to now have been 
models of capitalist order, culture and civilisation, it is 
becoming dangerous to go out into the street after dark, 
because, in spite of the very severe measures and the very 
strict guard that is kept, the war and famine have reduced 
people to such a state of absolute savagery, have led to 
such anarchy, have roused such indignation, that not 
merely the sale, but downright looting, an actual war for 
a crust of bread, is becoming the order of the day in all 
cultured, civilised countries. 

Hence, comrades, since a painful and difficult situation 
has been created in our country as a consequence of the 
famine, we must explain to the few absolutely blind and 
ignorant people (though few, they do still exist) the main 
and principal causes of the famine. We can still meet people 
in our country who argue in this way: but under the tsar we 
had bread; the revolution has come and there is no bread. 
Naturally, it is quite possible that for some old village 
women the development of history during the past ten years 
is summed up entirely by the fact that formerly there was 
bread and now there is none. This is comprehensible, because 
famine is a disaster which sweeps away all other questions, 
which takes its place as the cornerstone, and overrules 
everything else. But it goes without saying that our task, 
the task of the class-conscious workers, is to explain to the 
broad masses, to explain to all the representatives of the 
working masses in town and country the principal cause of 
the famine; for unless we explain this we shall not be able 
to create a proper attitude either among ourselves or among 
the representatives of the working masses, we shall not be 
able to create a proper understanding of its harmfulness and 
we shall not be able to create that firm determination and 
temper that is required to combat this disaster. If we re- 
member that this disaster was caused by the imperialist war, 
that today even the richest countries are experiencing un- 
precedented food shortages and that the overwhelming major- 
ity of the working masses are suffering incredible torture; if 



we remember that for four years already this imperialist war 
has been compelling the workers of the various countries to 
shed their blood for the benefit of the greedy capitalists, and 
if we remember that the longer the war lasts, the fewer be- 
come the ways out of it, we will understand what gigantic, 
immense forces will have to be set moving. 

The war has lasted nearly four years. Russia has come out of 
the war, and owing to the fact that she has come out of 
the war alone she has found herself between two gangs of 
imperialist plunderers, each of which is clutching at her, 
strangling her and taking advantage of her temporary 
defencelessness and lack of arms. The war has already 
lasted four years. The German imperialist plunderers have 
achieved a number of victories and continue to deceive their 
workers, a section of whom, bribed by the bourgeoisie, have 
deserted to the side of the German imperialists and con- 
tinue to repeat the despicable lie about the defence of the 
fatherland when as a matter of fact the German soldiers 
are defending the selfish predatory interests of the German 
capitalists who have promised them that Germany will bring 
peace and prosperity. Actually we see that the more exten- 
sive Germany's victories become the more the hopelessness 
of her position is revealed. 

When the forced, exploiters' peace of Brest, a peace 
based upon violence and the oppression of peoples, was 
concluded, Germany, the German capitalists boasted that they 
would give the workers bread and peace. But now they are 
reducing the bread ration in Germany. It is universally 
admitted that the food campaign in the rich Ukraine has been 
a failure. In Austria the situation has again reached the 
stage of hunger riots, of nation-wide outbursts of indignation, 
because the more Germany is victorious the clearer it be- 
comes to all, even to many representatives of the big bour- 
geoisie in Germany, that the war is hopeless. They are be- 
ginning to realise that even if the Germans are able to main- 
tain their resistance on the Western front it will not bring 
the end of the war any nearer but will create another 
enslaved country which will have to be occupied by German 
troops and make it necessary to continue the war; and this 
will lead to the disintegration of the German army, which 
is being transformed from an army into a gang of plunderers 



violating foreign peoples, unarmed peoples, and extracting 
from their countries the last remnants of food supplies 
and raw materials in the face of tremendous resistance from 
the population. The closer Germany approaches the outer 
frontiers of Europe the clearer it becomes that she is con- 
fronted by Britain and America, which are far more devel- 
oped than she is, which have greater productive forces, which 
have had time to dispatch tens of thousands of the best new 
forces to Europe, and to transform all their machines and 
factories into instruments of destruction. The war is receiv- 
ing fresh fuel, and that means that every year, nay every 
month, sees the further extension of this war. There is no 
other way out of this war except revolution, except civil 
war, except the transformation of the war between capital- 
ists for profits, for the sharing of the loot, for the strangula- 
tion of small countries, into a war of the oppressed against 
the oppressors, a war which always accompanies not only 
great revolutions but every serious revolution in history, 
a war which is the only war that is legitimate and just, a 
holy war from the point of view of the interests of the working 
people, of the oppressed and of the exploited masses. (Ap- 
plause.) Without such a war there can be no liberation from 
imperialist slavery. We must be perfectly clear in our minds 
about the new disasters that civil war brings for every coun- 
try. The more cultured a country is the more serious will be 
these disasters. Let us picture to ourselves a country possess- 
ing machinery and railways in which civil war is raging, 
and this civil war cuts off communication between the 
various parts of the country. Picture to yourselves the condi- 
tion of regions which for decades have been accustomed 
to living by the interchange of manufactured goods and you 
will understand that every civil war brings fresh disasters, 
which the great socialists foresaw. The imperialists doom 
the working class to disaster, suffering and extinction. 
Intolerable and painful as all this may be for the whole of 
mankind, it is becoming clearer and clearer every day to 
the new socialist society that the imperialists will not be 
able to put an end to the war which they started; other 
classes will end it — the working class, which in all coun- 
tries is becoming more and more active every day, 
more and more angry and indignant, and which, irres- 



pective of sentiments and moods, the force of circumstances 
is compelling to overthrow the rule of the capitalists. We, in 
Russia, are particularly affected by the disaster of famine 
and are passing through a period more difficult than had ever 
been experienced by any revolution, and we cannot count 
on immediate aid from our West-European comrades. The 
whole difficulty of the Russian revolution is that it was 
much easier for the Russian revolutionary working class to 
start than it is for the West-European classes, but it is much 
more difficult for us to continue. It is more difficult to start 
a revolution in West-European countries because there the 
revolutionary proletariat is opposed by the higher thinking 
that comes with culture, and the working class is in a state 
of cultural slavery. 

Meanwhile, because of our international position, we 
must pass through an incredibly difficult time, and we 
representatives of the working masses. We workers, class- 
conscious workers, in all our agitation and propaganda, in 
every speech we deliver, in every appeal we issue, in our 
talks in the factories and at every meeting with peasants, 
must explain that the disaster that has befallen us is an 
international disaster and that there is no other way out 
of it except world revolution. Since we must pass through 
such a painful period in which we temporarily stand alone, 
we must exert all our efforts to bear the difficulties of this 
period staunchly, knowing that in the last analysis we 
are not alone, that the disaster which we are experiencing 
is creeping upon every European country, and that not one 
of these countries will be able to extricate itself except by 
a series of revolutions. 

Russia has been afflicted by famine, which has been made 
more acute by the fact that the imposed peace has deprived 
her of the most fertile grain-bearing gubernias, and it has 
also been made more acute by the fact that the old food 
campaign is drawing to a close. We still have several weeks 
to go before the next harvest, which will undoubtedly be a 
rich one; and these few weeks will be a very difficult period 
of transition which, being a difficult one generally, is ren- 
dered still more critical by the fact that in Russia the deposed 
exploiting classes of landowners and capitalists are doing 
all they can, are exerting every effort to restore their power. 



This is one of the main reasons why the grain-bearing guber- 
nias of Siberia are cut off from us as a result of the Czecho- 
slovak mutiny. But we know very well what forces are behind 
this revolt, we know very well that the Czechoslovak sol- 
diers are declaring to the representatives of our troops, of 
our workers and of our peasants, that they do not want to 
fight against Russia and against the Russian Soviet govern- 
ment, that they only want to make their way by force of 
arms to the frontier. But at their head stand yesterday's 
generals, landowners and capitalists, who are financed by 
the British and the French and enjoy the support of Russian 
traitors to socialism who have deserted to the side of the 
bourgeoisie. (Applause.) 

The whole gang of them is taking advantage of the famine 
to make another attempt to restore the landowners and the 
capitalists to power. Comrades, the experience of our revo- 
lution confirms the correctness of the words which always 
distinguish the representatives of scientific socialism, Marx 
and his followers, from the Utopian socialists, from the petty- 
bourgeois socialists, from the socialist intellectuals and 
from the socialist dreamers. The intellectual dreamers, the 
petty-bourgeois socialists, thought, and perhaps still think, 
or dreamt that it is possible to introduce socialism by per- 
suasion. They think that the majority of the people will 
be convinced, and when they become convinced the minority 
will obey; that the majority will vote and socialism will 
be introduced. (Applause.) No, the world is not built so 
happily; the exploiters, the brutal landowners, the capitalist 
class are not amenable to persuasion. The socialist revolution 
confirms what everybody has seen — the furious resistance 
of the exploiters. The stronger the pressure of the oppressed 
class becomes, the nearer they come to overthrowing all 
oppression, all exploitation, the more resolutely the oppressed 
peasantry and the oppressed workers display their own 
initiative, the more furious does the resistance of the 
exploiters become. 

We are passing through a very severe and very painful 
period of transition from capitalism to socialism, a period 
which will inevitably be a very long one in all countries 
because, I repeat, the oppressors retaliate to every success 
achieved by the oppressed class by fresh attempts at resist- 



ance, by attempts to overthrow the power of the oppressed 
class. The Czechoslovak mutiny, which is obviously being 
supported by Anglo-French imperialism in the pursuit of 
its policy of overthrowing the Soviet government, illustrates 
what this resistance can be. We see that this mutiny is, 
of course, spreading because of the famine. It is understand- 
able that among the broad masses of the toilers there are 
many (you know this particularly well; every one of you 
sees this in the factories) who are not enlightened socialists 
and cannot be such because they have to slave in the facto- 
ries and they have neither the time nor the opportunity to 
become socialists. It is understandable that these people 
should be in sympathy when they see the workers coming 
to the fore in the factory, when they see that these workers 
obtain the opportunity to learn the art of managing facto- 
ries — a difficult and exacting task in which mistakes are 
inevitable, but the only task in which the workers can at 
last realise their constant striving to make the machines, the 
factories, the works, the best of modern techniques, the best 
achievements of humanity serve not purposes of exploitation, 
but the purpose of improving and easing the lives of the over- 
whelming majority. But when they see the imperialist plun- 
derers in the West, in the North and in the East taking 
advantage of Russia's defencelessness to tear her heart out, 
and since they do not yet know what the situation in the 
labour movement will be in other countries, of course they are 
guided by despair. Nor can it be otherwise. It would be ri- 
diculous to expect and foolish to think that capitalist society 
based on exploitation, could at one stroke create a complete 
appreciation of the need for socialism and an understanding 
of it. This cannot be. This appreciation comes only at the 
end of the struggle which has to be waged in this painful 
period, in which one revolution has broken out before the 
rest and gets no assistance from the others, and when famine 
approaches. Naturally, certain strata of the toilers are inev- 
itably overcome by despair and indignation and turn away 
in disgust from everything. Naturally, the counter-revolution- 
aries, the landowners and capitalists, and their protectors 
and henchmen, take advantage of this situation for the pur- 
pose of launching attack after attack upon the socialist 



We see what this has led to in all the towns where no 
assistance was given by foreign bayonets. We know that it 
was possible to defeat the Soviet government only when 
those people who had shouted so much about defending the 
fatherland and about their patriotism revealed their capi- 
talist nature and concluded agreements, one day with the 
German bayonets in order jointly with them to massacre 
the Ukrainian Bolsheviks, the next day with the Turkish 
bayonets in order to march against the Bolsheviks, the day 
after that with the Czechoslovak bayonets in order to over- 
throw the Soviet government and massacre the Bolsheviks' 
in Samara. Foreign aid alone, the aid of foreign bayonets 
alone, the selling out of Russia to Japanese, German and 
Turkish bayonets alone, have up to now given some show of 
success to the landowners and to those who have compromised 
with the capitalists. But we know that when, owing to 
the famine and the despair of the masses, rebellions of this 
sort broke out in districts where the aid of foreign bayonets 
could not be obtained, as was the case in Saratov, Kozlov 
and Tambov, the rule of the landowners, the capitalists and 
their friends who camouflaged themselves with the beauti- 
ful slogans of the Constituent Assembly lasted not more 
than days, if not hours. The further the units of the Soviet 
army were from the centre temporarily occupied by the coun- 
ter-revolution, the more determined was the movement 
among the urban workers, the more initiative these workers 
and peasants displayed in marching to the aid of Saratov, 
Penza and Kozlov and in immediately overthrowing the 
rule of the counter-revolution which had been established. 

Comrades, if you examine these events from the point of 
view of all that is taking place in world history, if you 
bear in mind that your task, our common task, is to explain 
to ourselves and to explain to the masses that these great 
disasters have not befallen us accidentally, but first as 
a result of the imperialist war, and secondly as a result 
of the furious resistance of the landowners, the capitalists 
and the exploiters, if we are clear about this we can be 
certain that, however difficult it may be, the full appreciation 
of this will spread wider and wider among the masses and we 
shall succeed in creating discipline, in overcoming the 
indiscipline in our factories, and in helping the people to 



live through this painful and particularly difficult period, 
which perhaps will last the month or two, the few weeks 
that still remain until the new harvest. 

You know that, as a consequence of the Czechoslovak 
counter-revolutionary mutiny, which has cut us off from 
Siberia, as a consequence of the continuous unrest in the 
South, and as a consequence of the war, the position in 
Russia today is particularly difficult; but it goes without 
saying that the more difficult the position of our country 
in which famine is approaching becomes, the more deter- 
mined and firm must be the measures that we adopt to com- 
bat that famine. One of the principal measures to combat 
the famine is the establishment of the grain monopoly. In 
this connection you will know perfectly well from your own 
experience that the kulaks, the rich, are raising an outcry 
against the grain monopoly at every step. This can be 
understood, because in those places where the grain monopoly 
was temporarily abolished, as Skoropadsky abolished it in 
Kiev, profiteering reached unprecedented dimensions; there 
the price of a pood of grain rose to two hundred rubles. 
Naturally, when there is a shortage of foods without which 
it is impossible to live, the owners of such goods can become 
rich, prices rise to unprecedented heights. Naturally, the 
horror, the panic created by the fear of death from starva- 
tion forced prices up to unprecedented heights, and in Kiev 
they had to think of restoring the monopoly. Here in Russia, 
long ago, when before the Bolsheviks came to power, not- 
withstanding the wealth of grain that Russia possessed, 
the government realised the necessity of introducing the 
grain monopoly. Only those who are absolutely ignorant, 
or who have deliberately sold themselves to the interests 
of the money-bags, can be opposed to it. (Applause.) 

But, comrades, when we speak of the grain monopoly we 
must think of the enormous difficulties of realisation that 
are contained in this phrase. It is quite easy to say "grain 
monopoly", but we must ponder over what this phrase means. 
It means that all surplus grain belongs to the state; it 
means that every single pood of grain over and above that 
required by the peasant for his farm, to maintain his family 
and cattle and for sowing, that every extra pood of grain 
must be taken by the state. How is this to be done? The 



state must fix prices; every surplus pood of grain must be 
found and brought in. How can the peasant, whose mind has 
been stultified for hundreds of years, who has been robbed 
and beaten to stupefaction by the landowners and capitalists, 
who never allowed him to eat his fill, how can this peasant 
learn to appreciate in a few weeks or a few months what the 
grain monopoly means? How can millions of people who up 
to now have known the state only by its oppression, its 
violence, by the tyranny and robbery of the government 
officials, how can these peasants, living in remote villages 
and doomed to ruin, be made to understand that the rule 
of the workers and peasants means, be made to understand 
that power is in the hands of the poor, that to hoard grain, 
possess surplus grain and not hand it over to the state is 
a crime, and that those who hoard surplus grain are robbers, 
exploiters, and guilty of causing terrible starvation among 
the workers of Petrograd, Moscow, etc.? How can the peas- 
ant understand these things, considering that up to now he 
has been kept in ignorance and that the only thing he has 
been concerned with in the village is to sell his grain? How 
can he understand these things? It is not surprising that 
when we examine this question more closely, from the point 
of view of practical life, we realise what an enormously dif- 
ficult task it is to introduce a grain monopoly in a country 
in which tsarism and the landowners held the majority of 
the peasants in ignorance, in a country in which the peasant- 
ry have sown grain on their own land for the first time In 
many centuries. (Applause.) 

But the more difficult this task is, the greater it appears 
to be upon close and careful study, the more clearly must 
we say to ourselves what we have always said, namely, that 
the emancipation of the workers must be performed by the 
workers themselves. We have always said: the emancipa- 
tion of the working people from oppression cannot be brought 
from outside; the working people themselves, by their 
struggle, by their movement, by their agitation, must learn 
to solve a new historical problem; and the more difficult, 
the greater, the more responsible the new historical problem 
is, the larger must be the number of those enlisted for the pur- 
pose of taking an independent part in solving it. No class 
consciousness, no organisation is required to sell grain to 



a merchant, to a trader. To do that one must live as the bour- 
geoisie has ordered. One must merely be an obedient slave 
and imagine and admit that the world as built by the 
bourgeoisie is magnificent. But in order to overcome this 
capitalist chaos, in order to introduce the grain monopoly, 
in order to ensure that every surplus pood of grain is trans- 
ferred to the state, there must be prolonged, difficult and 
strenuous organisational work, not by organisers, not by 
agitators, but by the masses themselves. 

There are such people in the Russian countryside. The 
majority of the peasants belong to the category of the very 
poor and poor peasants who are not in a position to trade 
in grain surpluses and become robbers hoarding perhaps 
hundreds of poods of grain while others are starving. But 
today, the situation is that a peasant will perhaps call 
himself a working peasant (some people like this term very 
much); but if such a peasant has by his own labour, even 
without the aid of hired labour, harvested hundreds of poods 
of grain and calculates that if he keeps this grain he will 
be able to get more than six rubles, from a profiteer, or from 
a starving urban worker who has come with his starving 
family and may offer two hundred rubles a pood — such a 
peasant, who hoards hundreds of poods of grain in order to 
raise the price and get even a hundred rubles a pood, can- 
not be called a working peasant, he becomes transformed 
into an exploiter, into someone worse than a robber. What 
must we do under these circumstances? Whom can we rely 
upon in our struggle? We know that the Soviet revolution 
and the Soviet government differ from other revolutions 
and other governments not only because they have over- 
thrown the power of the landowners and the capitalists, not 
only because they have destroyed the feudal state, the autoc- 
racy, but also because the masses have rebelled against all 
the bureaucrats and created a new state in which power 
must belong to the workers and peasants — not only must, 
but already does belong to them. In this state there are no 
police, no bureaucrats and no standing army kept in barracks 
for many years, isolated from the people and trained to 
shoot the people. 

We place arms in the hands of the workers and peasants, 
who must learn the art of war. There are units who give way 



to temptation, vice and crime because they are not separated 
by a Chinese Wall from the world of oppression, from the 
world of starvation, in which those who have want to 
enrich themselves out of what they have. That is why very 
often we see detachments of class-conscious workers leaving 
Petrograd and Moscow and, on reaching the district to which 
they have been sent, going astray and becoming criminals. 
We see the bourgeoisie clapping their hands in delight and 
filling the columns of their corrupt press with all sorts of 
bogies to frighten the people. "See what your detachments 
are like," they say, "what disorder they are creating, 
how much better our detachments of private capitalists 

No, thank you, bourgeois gentlemen! You will not frighten 
us. You know very well that recovery from the misfortunes 
and ulcers of the capitalist world will not come all at once. 
And we know that recovery will come only through struggle; 
we will expose every incident of this kind, not to provide 
material for the counter-revolutionary Mensheviks and Con- 
stitutional-Democrats to smile and gloat over, but in order 
to teach wider masses of the people. Since our detachments 
do not fulfil their duties properly, give us more loyal and 
class-conscious detachments far exceeding the number of 
those who gave way to temptation. These must be organised 
and educated; exploited and starving workers who are not 
class-conscious must be rallied around every class-conscious 
worker. The rural poor must be roused, educated and shown 
that the Soviet government will do all it possibly can to 
help them, so as to carry out the grain monopoly. 

And so, when we approached this task, when the Soviet 
government stated these questions clearly, it said: 
comrades, workers, organise, rally the food detachments, 
combat every case in which these detachments show that 
they are not equal to their duties, organise more strongly 
and rectify your mistakes, rally the village poor around you. 
The kulaks know that their last hour has struck, that their 
enemy is advancing not merely with sermons, words and 
phrases, but by organising the village poor; and if we 
succeed in organising the village poor we shall vanquish the 
kulaks. The kulaks know that the hour of the last, most 
determined, most desperate battle for socialism is approaching. 



This struggle seems to be only a struggle for bread, but 
as a matter of fact it is a struggle for socialism. If the work- 
ers learn to solve these problems independently — no 
one will come to their aid — if they learn to rally the village 
poor around them, they will achieve victory, they will have 
broad and the proper distribution of bread, they will even 
have the proper distribution of labour, because by distrib- 
uting labour properly we shall be supreme in all spheres 
of labour, in all spheres of industry. 

Foreseeing all this, the kulaks have made repeated 
attempts to bribe the poor. They know that grain must be 
sold to the state at fix rubles per pood, but they sell grain 
to a poor peasant neighbour at three rubles per pood and 
say to him: "You can go to a profiteer and sell at forty 
rubles per pood. We have common interests; we must unite 
against the state, which is robbing us. It wants to give us 
six rubles per pood here, take three poods, you can make 
sixty rubles. You needn't worry about how much I make, 
that is my business." 

I know that on these grounds armed conflicts with the 
peasants repeatedly occur, while the enemies of the Soviet 
government gloat over it and snigger, and exert every effort 
to overthrow the Soviet government. But we say: "That is 
because the food detachments that were sent were not suf- 
ficiently class-conscious; but the larger the detachments 
were the more frequently we had cases — and this happened 
repeatedly — when the peasants gave their grain without a 
single case of violence, because class-conscious workers 
show that their main strength lies, not in violence, 
but in the fact that they are the representatives of the 
organised and enlightened poor, whereas in the rural dis- 
tricts there is a mass of ignorance, the poor are not enlight- 
ened. If the latter are approached in an intelligent manner, 
if they are told in plain language, without bookish words, 
in a plain human way, that in Petrograd and Moscow and 
in scores of uyezds people are starving and typhus is spread- 
ing as a result of famine, that tens of thousands of Russian 
peasants and workers are dying of starvation, that it is the 
rich who have been unjustly hoarding grain and making 
profit out of the starvation of the people, it will be possible 
to organise the poor and get the surplus grain collected not 



by violence but by the organisation of the village poor. 
I frequently receive complaints about the kulaks from com- 
rades who have gone to the villages with food detachments 
and who have fought against the counter-revolution. I will 
quote an example of which I have a particularly lively 
recollection because I heard it yesterday, of something that 
occurred in Yelets Uyezd, 174 In that uyezd a Soviet 
of Workers' Deputies has been set up, and there are a large 
number of class-conscious workers and poor peasants there. 
Thanks to this, it has been possible to consolidate the power 
of the poor. The first time the representatives of Yelets 
Uyezd came to report to me I would not believe them, I 
thought they were boasting. But what they said was confirmed 
by comrades who had been sent especially from Moscow to 
other gubernias. They said that the manner in which work 
had been organised in Yelets was only to be welcomed, and 
confirmed the fact that in Russia there were uyezds where 
the Soviets were equal to their tasks and had succeeded in 
completely removing the kulaks and exploiters from the 
Soviets, in organising the toilers, in organising the poor, 
Let those who use their wealth for profit clear out of the 
Soviet state organisations! (Applause.) 

After they had expelled the kulaks they went to the 
town of Yelets, a trading town. They did not wait for a 
decree to introduce the grain monopoly but remembered that 
the Soviets represent a government that is close to the 
people and that every person, if he is a revolutionary, if 
he is a socialist and is really on the side of the toilers, 
must act quickly and decisively. They organised all the 
workers and poor peasants and formed so many detachments 
that searches were made all over Yelets. They allowed only 
the trusted and responsible leaders of the detachments to 
enter the houses. Not a single person of whom they were not 
certain was allowed to enter the houses, for they knew how 
often vacillation occurs and that nothing disgraces the Soviet 
government so much as these cases of robbery committed by 
unworthy representatives and servants of the Soviet govern- 
ment. They succeeded in collecting a huge quantity of 
surplus grain and there was not a single house in commer- 
cial Yelets in which the bourgeoisie could make any profit 
by profiteering. 



Of course, I know that it is much easier to do this in a small 
town than in a city like Moscow, but it must not be forgot- 
ten that not a single uyezd town possesses the proletarian 
forces that Moscow has. 

In Tambov, recently, the counter-revolution was victo- 
rious for several hours. It even published one issue of a 
Menshevik and Right Socialist-Revolutionary newspaper 
which called for the convocation of a Constituent Assembly, 
for the overthrow of the Soviet government and declared that 
the victory of the new government was permanent. But Red 
Army men and peasants arrived from the surrounding country 
and in one day overthrew this new "permanent" government, 
which claimed to be supported by the Constituent Assembly. 

,The same thing occurred in other uyezds in Tambov 
Gubernia — a gubernia of enormous size. Its northern uyezds 
are in the non-agricultural zone, but its southern uyezds 
are extraordinarily fertile, there they gather very big har- 
vests. Many of the peasants there have surplus grain, and 
there one must act energetically and have a particularly 
firm and clear understanding of the situation to be able 
to gain the support of the poor peasants and overcome the 
kulaks. There the kulaks are hostile to every sort of work- 
ers' and peasants' government and our people have to 
wait for the assistance of the Petrograd and Moscow workers 
who, on every occasion, armed with the weapon of organisa- 
tion, expel the kulaks from the Soviets, organise the poor 
and jointly with the local peasants acquire experience in 
fighting for the state monopoly of grain, experience in 
organising the rural poor and urban toilers in such a way as 
will guarantee us final and complete victory. I have quoted 
these examples to illustrate the food situation, comrades, 
because it seems to me that from the point of view of the 
working people, for us, for the workers, for the politically 
conscious proletariat, it is not the statistical estimate of the 
amount of grain, of how many million poods we can obtain, 
that matters when one is describing the fight against the 
kulaks for bread. I leave it to the food supply experts to 
draw up these statistics. I must say that if we succeed in 
securing the surplus grain from the gubernias adjacent to 
the Moscow non-agricultural zone and from fertile Siberia, 



even there we could secure enough grain to save the non- 
agricultural gubernias from starvation during the few crit- 
ical weeks that remain until the harvest. In order to do 
that we must organise a still larger number of class-con- 
scious, advanced workers. This was the main lesson to be 
learned from all preceding revolutions, and it is the main 
lesson to be learned from our revolution. The better we are 
organised, the more widely organisation manifests itself, 
the more the workers in the factories realise that their 
strength lies entirely in their organisation and that of the 
village poor, the more will our victory in the struggle against 
famine and in the struggle for socialism be assured. For, I 
repeat, our task is not to invent a new form of government 
but to rouse, to educate and to organise every representative 
of the village poor, even in the remotest villages, to inde- 
pendent activity. It will not be difficult for a few class- 
conscious urban workers, Petrograd and Moscow workers, 
to explain, even in remote villages, that it is wrong to hoard 
grain, to profiteer in grain, to use it for making vodka, when 
hundreds of thousands are dying in Moscow. In order to do 
that, the workers of Petrograd and Moscow, and particularly 
you, comrades, the representatives of the most varied trades, 
factories and works, must thoroughly understand that no one 
will come to your assistance, that from other classes you can 
expect not assistants but enemies, that the Soviet govern- 
ment has no loyal intelligentsia at its service. The intelli- 
gentsia are using their experience and knowledge — the high- 
est human achievement — in the service of the exploiters, and 
are doing all they can to prevent our gaining victory over 
the exploiters; their efforts will cause the death of hundreds 
of thousands from starvation, but that will not break the 
resistance of the toilers. We have no one to depend upon 
but the class with which we achieved the revolution and with 
which we shall overcome the greatest difficulties, cross the 
very difficult zone that lies ahead of us — and that is the 
factory workers, the urban and rural proletariat, who speak 
to each other in a language they all understand, who in town 
and country will vanquish all our enemies — the kulaks and 
the rich. 

But in order to achieve this we must remember the fun- 
damental postulate of the socialist revolution which the 



workers so often forget, and that is, that in order to make 
a socialist revolution, in order to bring it about, in order 
to liberate the people from oppression, it is not necessary 
immediately to abolish classes; the most class-conscious 
and organised workers must take power in their hands. The 
workers must become the ruling class in the state. That 
is the truth which the majority of you have read in The 
Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, which was writ- 
ten more than seventy years ago, and which has been trans- 
lated into all languages and circulated in all countries. Every- 
where the truth has been revealed that in order to vanquish 
the capitalists it is necessary during the struggle against 
exploitation, while ignorance is rife, while people do not 
yet believe in the new system, that the organised urban fac- 
tory workers become the ruling class. When you gather 
together in your factory committees to settle your affairs, re- 
member that the revolution will not be able to retain a single 
one of its gains if you, in your factory committees, merely 
concern yourselves with workers' technical or purely finan- 
cial interests. The workers and the oppressed classes have 
managed to seize power more than once, but never have 
they been able to retain it. To do this the workers must 
be able not only to rise in heroic struggle and overthrow 
exploitation; they must also be able to organise, to maintain 
discipline, to be staunch, to discuss affairs calmly when 
everything is tottering, when you are being attacked, when 
innumerable stupid rumours are being spread — it is at such 
a time that the factory committees, which in all things are 
closely connected with the vast masses, are faced with the 
great political task of becoming primarily an organ of ad- 
ministration of political life. The fundamental political 
problem that faces the Soviet government is that of securing 
the proper distribution of grain. Although Yelets succeeded 
in bridling the local bourgeoisie, it is much more difficult 
to do this in Moscow; but here we have incomparably better 
organisation, and here you can easily find tens of thousands 
of honest people whom your parties and your trade unions 
will supply and answer for, who will be able to lead the de- 
tachments and guarantee that they will remain ideologically 
loyal in spite of all difficulties, in spite of all temptations 
and in spite of the torments of hunger. No other class could 



undertake this task at the present time, no other class would 
be able to lead the people who often fall into despair; there 
is no other class but the urban factory proletariat that can 
do this. Your factory committees must cease to be merely 
factory committees, they must become the fundamental 
state nuclei of the ruling class. (Applause.) Your organisa- 
tion, your solidarity, your energy will determine whether 
we shall hold out in this severe transitional period as staunch- 
ly as a Soviet government should hold out. Take up this 
work yourselves, take it up from every side, expose abuses 
every day. Rectify every mistake that is committed with 
your own experience — many mistakes are committed today 
because the working class is still inexperienced, but the 
important thing is that it should itself take up this work 
and rectify its own mistakes. If we act in this way, if every 
committee understands that it is one of the leaders of the 
greatest revolution in the world — then we shall achieve so- 
cialism for the whole world! (Applause culminating in an 




JUNE 28, 1918 

Comrades, permit me first of all to deal with a few of 
the propositions advanced in opposition to me by Paderin, 
who delivered the second report. From the shorthand 
report I note that he said: "We must do everything possible 
to enable primarily the British and German proletariat to 
rise against their oppressors. What must be done to bring 
this about? Is it our business to help these oppressors? 
By rousing enmity among ourselves, by destroying and weak- 
ening the country, we infinitely strengthen the position of the 
imperialists, British, French and German, who in the end 
will unite in order to strangle the working class of Russia." 
This argument shows how irresolute the Mensheviks have 
always been in their struggle against and in their opposition 
to imperialist war, because the argument I have just quoted 
can only be understood as coming from the lips of a man who 
calls himself a defencist, who takes up a completely impe- 
rialist position (applause), of a man who justifies imperial- 
ist war and who repeats the bourgeois lie that in such a 
war the workers defend their fatherland. If, indeed, one 
adopts the point of view that the workers must not destroy 
and weaken the country during such a war, it is tantamount 
to calling upon the workers to defend the fatherland in an 
imperialist war. And you know what the Bolshevik Govern- 
ment, which considered it its first duty to publish, to expose 
and to pillory the secret treaties, has done. You know that 
the Allies waged war for the sake of the secret treaties, and 
that the Kerensky government, which existed with the aid 



and support of the Mensheviks and the Right Socialist- 
Revolutionaries, not only did not annul the secret treaties, 
but did not even publish them; you know that the Russian 
people waged war for the sake of these secret treaties, which 
promised the Russian landowners and capitalists, in the event 
of victory, Constantinople, the Dardanelles, Lvov, Galicia 
and Armenia. If we adopt the point of view of the working 
class, if we are opposed to the war, how could we tolerate 
these secret treaties? As long as we tolerated the secret trea- 
ties, as long as we tolerated the rule of the bourgeoisie in 
Russia, we fostered the chauvinistic conviction in the minds 
of the German workers that there were no class-conscious 
workers in Russia, that everyone in Russia supported impe- 
rialism, and that Russia was pursuing a war for the purpose 
of plundering Austria and Turkey. But the very opposite is 
the case. The workers' and peasants' government has done 
more than any other government in the world to weaken the 
German imperialists, to tear the German workers away from 
them, because when the secret treaties were published and 
exposed to the world, even the German chauvinists, even 
the German defencists, even those workers who supported their 
government, had to admit in their newspaper Vorwarts, 115 
their central organ, that "this is an act of a socialist govern- 
ment, a genuinely revolutionary act". They had to admit 
this because not a single imperialist government involved 
in the war did this; ours was the only government that 
denounced the secret treaties. 

Of course at the back of every German worker's mind, no 
matter how cowed, downtrodden or bribed by the imperialists 
he may be, there is the thought: "Has not our government 
secret treaties?" (A voice: "Tell us about the Black Sea 
fleet.") All right, I will tell you about it, although it has 
nothing to do with the subject. At the back of every German 
worker's mind there is the thought: "If the Russian workers 
have gone to the length of denouncing the secret treaties, has 
not the German Government secret treaties?" When the 
Brest negotiations began, Comrade Trotsky's exposures 
reached the whole world. Did not this policy rouse in an 
enemy country engaged in a terrible imperialist war with 
other governments, not anger but the sympathy of the masses 
of the people? The only government to do that was our 



government. Our revolution succeeded in rousing a great 
revolutionary movement during wartime in an enemy country 
merely by the fact that we denounced the secret treaties by 
the fact that we said; "We will not be deterred by any danger." 
If we know, if we say, and not merely say, but mean it, that 
international revolution is the only salvation from world 
war, from the imperialist massacre of the people, then we 
in our revolution must pursue that aim, notwithstanding all 
difficulties and all dangers. And when we took this path, 
for the first time in history, in Germany, in the most impe- 
rialistic and most disciplined country, in the midst of war, 
a mass strike broke out and flared up in January. Of course 
there are people who believe that revolution can break out 
in a foreign country to order, by agreement. These people 
are either mad or they are provocateurs. We have experi- 
enced two revolutions during the past twelve years. We know 
that revolutions cannot be made to order, or by agreement; 
they break out when tens of millions of people come to the 
conclusion that it is impossible to live in the old way any 
longer. We know what difficulties accompanied the birth 
of the revolution in 1905 and in 1917, and we never expected 
revolution to break out in other countries at one stroke, as 
a result of a single appeal. The revolution now beginning 
to grow in Germany and in Austria in a tribute to the great 
service rendered by the Russian October Revolution. (Ap- 
plause.) We read in the newspapers today that in Vienna, 
where the bread ration is smaller than ours, where the plun- 
der of the Ukraine can bring no relief, where the population 
says that it has never before experienced such horrors of 
starvation, an Arbeiterrat has sprung up. In Vienna general 
strikes are breaking out again. 

And we say to ourselves: This is the second step, this 
is the second proof that when the Russian workers denounced 
the imperialist secret treaties, when they expelled their 
bourgeoisie, they acted as consistent class-conscious worker 
internationalists, they facilitated the growth of the revolu- 
tion in Germany and in Austria in a way that no other revolu- 
tion in the world has ever done in a hostile country which 
was in a state of war, and in which bitter feeling ran high. 

To forecast when a revolution will mature, to promise 
that it will come tomorrow, would be deceiving you. You 



remember, particularly those of you who experienced both 
Russian revolutions, that no one in November 1904 could 
guarantee that within two months a hundred thousand St. 
Petersburg workers would march to the Winter Palace and 
start a great revolution. 

Recall December 1916. How could we guarantee that two 
months later the tsarist monarchy would be overthrown in 
the course of a few days? We in this country, which has 
experienced two revolutions, know and realise that the 
progress of the revolution cannot be foretold, and that 
revolution cannot be called forth. We can only work for the 
revolution. If you work consistently, if you work devotedly, 
if this work is linked up with the interests of the oppressed 
masses, who make up the majority, revolution will 
come; but where, how, at what moment, from what imme- 
diate cause, cannot be foretold. That is why we shall never 
take the liberty of deceiving the masses by saying: "The Ger- 
man workers will help us tomorrow, they will blow up their 
Kaiser the day after tomorrow." We have no right to say 
such things. 

Our position is made more difficult by the fact that 
the Russian revolution proved to be ahead of other revo- 
lutions; but the fact that we are not alone is proved by the 
news that reaches us nearly every day that the best German 
Social-Democrats are expressing themselves in favour of 
the Bolsheviks, that the Bolsheviks are being supported 
in the open German press by Clara Zetkin and also by Franz 
Mehring, who in a series of articles has been showing the 
German workers that the Bolsheviks alone have properly 
understood what socialism is. Recently a Social-Democrat 
named Hoschka definitely stated in the Wiirttemberg Landtag 
that he regarded the Bolsheviks alone as models of consist- 
ency in the pursuit of a correct revolutionary policy. Do 
you think that such statements do not find an echo among 
scores, hundreds and thousands of German workers who 
associate themselves with these statements almost before 
they are uttered? When affairs in Germany and Austria 
have reached the stage of the formation of Arbeiterrdte 
and of a second mass strike, we can say without the 
least exaggeration, without the least self-deception, that 
this marks the beginning of a revolution. We say very 



definitely: Our policy and our path have been a correct policy 
and a correct path; we have helped the Austrian and the 
German workers to regard themselves, not as enemies strangl- 
ing the Russian workers in the interests of the Kaiser, in 
the interests of the German capitalists, but as brothers of 
the Russian workers, who are performing the same revolution- 
ary work as they are. (Applause.) 

I would also like to mention a passage in Paderin's 
speech which, in my opinion, deserves attention, the more 
so that it partly coincides with the idea expressed by the 
preceding speaker. 176 This is the passage: "We now see that 
civil war is being waged within the working class. Can 
we permit this to go on?" You see that civil war is described 
as war within the working class or as war against the peas- 
ants, as the preceding speaker described it. We know per- 
fectly well that both descriptions are wrong. The civil war 
in Russia is a war waged by the workers and the poor peas- 
ants against the landowners and the capitalists. This war 
is being prolonged and protracted because the Russian land- 
owners and capitalists were vanquished in October and No- 
vember with relatively small losses, were vanquished by the 
enthusiasm of the masses of the people under conditions in 
which it became immediately clear to them that the people 
would not support them. Things reached the stage that even 
in the Don region, where there is the largest number of rich 
Cossacks who live by exploiting wage labour, where the 
hopes of the counter-revolution were brightest, even there, 
Bogayevsky, the leader of the counter-revolutionary rebel- 
lion, had to admit and publicly admitted: "Ours is a lost 
cause because even in our region the majority of the popula- 
tion are on the side of the Bolsheviks." (Applause.) 

That was the position, that was how the landowners and 
capitalists lost their counter-revolutionary game in October 
and November. 

That was the result of their reckless attempt to organise 
the officer cadets, the officers, the sons of landowners and 
capitalists, into a White Guard to fight the workers' and 
peasants' revolution. And now — if you don't know this 
read today's newspapers — the Czechoslovak adventurers are 
operating with the financial assistance of the Anglo-French 
capitalists, 177 who are bribing troops to drag us into the 



war again. Haven't you read that the Czechoslovaks said in 
Samara? They said: "We shall join Dutov and Semyonov 
and compel the workers of Russia and the Russian people, 
once again to fight against Germany side by side with Britain 
and France. We shall restore those secret treaties and 
fling you once again, for another four years perhaps, into 
this imperialist war in alliance with the bourgeoisie." But 
instead of that we are now waging war against our bourgeoi- 
sie and the bourgeoisie of other countries, and it is solely 
due to the fact that we are waging this war that we have won 
the sympathy and support of the workers of other countries. 
If the workers of one belligerent country see that in the other 
belligerent country close connections are being established 
between the workers and the bourgeoisie it splits the work- 
ers up according to nation and unites them with their re- 
spective bourgeoisie. This is a great evil, it means the collapse 
of the socialist revolution, it means the collapse and doom 
of the whole International. (Applause.) 

In 1914 the International was wrecked because the work- 
ers of all countries united with the bourgeoisie in their 
respective countries and split their own ranks. Now, this 
split is being healed. Perhaps you have read that in Brit- 
ain recently the Scottish schoolteacher and trade unionist 
MacLean was sentenced for a second time, to five years' 
imprisonment — the first time he was sentenced to eighteen 
months — for exposing the real objects of the war and speak- 
ing about the criminal nature of British imperialism.. 
When he was released there was already a representative of 
the Soviet Government in Britain, Litvinov, who immedi- 
ately appointed MacLean Consul, a representative of the 
Soviet Russian Federative Republic in Britain, and the 
Scottish workers greeted this appointment with enthusiasm. 
The British Government has again started persecuting Mac- 
Lean and this time not only as a Scottish schoolteacher, 
but also as Consul of the Federative Soviet Republic. 
MacLean is in prison because he acted openly as the represent- 
ative of our government; we have never seen this man, he 
is the beloved leader of the Scottish workers, he has never 
belonged to our Party, but we joined with him; the Russian 
and Scottish workers united against the British Government 
in spite of the fact that the latter buys Czechoslovaks and 



is manoeuvring frantically to drag the Russian Republic 
into the war. This is proof that in all countries, irrespective 
of their position in the war — in Germany which is fighting 
against us, in Britain which is trying to grab Baghdad and 
strangle Turkey — the workers are uniting with the Russian 
Bolsheviks, with the Russian Bolshevik revolution. The 
speaker whose words I have quoted said that workers and 
peasants are waging a civil war against workers and peasants; 
we know perfectly well that this is not true. The working class 
is one thing; groups, small strata of the working class are 
another thing. From 1871 to 1914, for almost half a century, 
the German working class was a model of socialist organisa- 
tion for the whole world. We know that it had a party with 
a membership of a million, that it created trade unions with a 
membership of two, three and four millions; nevertheless, 
in the course of this half-century hundreds of thousands of 
German workers remained united in Christian trade unions, 
which stood staunchly for the priests, for the church and 
for the Kaiser. Who were the real representatives of the 
working class? Was it the huge German Social-Democratic 
Party and the trade unions, or the hundreds of thousands of 
church-going workers? The working class, which comprises 
the overwhelming majority of the class-conscious, advanced, 
thinking workers, is one thing, while a single factory, a 
single district, a few groups of workers who still remain on 
the side of the bourgeoisie are another thing. 

The overwhelming majority of the working class of Rus- 
sia — this is shown by all the elections to the Soviets, the fac- 
tory committees and conferences — ninety-nine per cent of 
them are on the side of the Soviet government {applause), 
knowing that this government is waging war against the 
bourgeoisie, against the kulaks, and not against the peasants 
and workers. It is quite a different matter that there is 
an insignificant group of workers still in slavish dependence 
upon the bourgeoisie. We are not waging war against 
them but against the bourgeoisie. If those insignificant 
groups which are still in alliance with the bourgeoisie get 
hurt in the process they have only themselves to blame. 

A question has been sent to me in writing; it reads as 
follows: "Why are counter-revolutionary newspapers still 



published?" One of the reasons is that there are elements 
among the printers who are bribed by the bourgeoisie. 178 
(Commotion, shouts: "It's not true.") You can shout as 
much as you like, but you will not prevent me from telling 
the truth, which all the workers know and which I have just 
begun to explain. When a worker attaches great importance 
to the wages he gets for working for the bourgeois press, 
when he says: "I want to keep my high wages by helping the 
bourgeoisie to sell poison, to poison the minds of the people," 
then I say it is as if these workers were bribed by the bourgeoi- 
sie (applause), not in the sense that any individual person 
was hired, but in the sense in which all Marxists have spoken 
about the British workers who ally themselves with their 
capitalists. All of you who have read trade union literature 
know that there are not only trade unions in Britain, but 
also alliances between the workers and capitalists in a par- 
ticular industry for the purpose of raising prices and of robbing 
everybody else. All Marxists, all socialists of all countries 
point the finger of scorn at these cases and, beginning with 
Marx and Engels, say that there are workers who, owing to 
their ignorance and pursuit of their craft interests, allow 
themselves to be bribed by the bourgeoisie. They have sold 
their birthright, their right to the socialist revolution, by 
entering into an alliance with their capitalists against the 
overwhelming majority of the workers and the oppressed 
toilers in their own country, against their own class. The 
same thing is happening here. When certain groups of work- 
ers say, the fact that the stuff we print is opium, poison, 
spreads lies and provocation, has nothing to do with us, 
we get high wages and we don't care a hang for anybody else 
— we will denounce such workers. In our literature we have 
always said openly: "Such workers are abandoning the 
working class and deserting to the side of the bourgeoisie." 

Comrades, I will in a moment deal with the questions 
that have been put to me; but first of all, so as not to forget, 
I will reply to the question about the Black Sea fleet, 179 
which seems to have been put for the purpose of exposing us. 
Let me tell you that the man who was operating there was 
Comrade Raskolnikov, whom the Moscow and Petrograd 
workers know very well because of the agitation and Party 



work he has carried on. Comrade Raskolnikov himself will 
be here and he will tell you how he agitated in favour of 
destroying the fleet rather than allow the German troops 
to use it for the purpose of attacking Novorossiisk. That 
was the situation in regard to the Black Sea fleet; and the 
People's Commissars Stalin, Shlyapnikov and Raskolnikov 
will arrive in Moscow soon and tell us all about it. You 
will see then that ours was the only possible policy; like the 
Brest peace policy, it caused us many misfortunes but it 
enabled the Soviet government and the workers' socialist 
revolution to hold their banner aloft before the workers of 
all countries. If the number of workers in Germany who are 
abandoning the old prejudices about the Bolsheviks, and 
who understand that our policy is correct, is growing day 
by day it is due to the tactics we have been pursuing since the 
Brest Treaty. 

Of the questions that have been sent up to me I will 
deal with the two concerning the transportation of grain. 
Certain workers ask: "Why do you prohibit individual 
workers from bringing grain into the town when it is for 
the use of their own families?" The reply is a simple one. 
Just think what would happen if the thousands of poods 
that are necessary for a given locality, for a given factory, 
for a given district, or for a given street were carried by thou- 
sands of people. If we allowed this, the food supply organi- 
sations would begin to break down entirely. We do not 
blame the man who, tormented by hunger, travels into the 
country to get grain and procures it in whatever way he 
can, but we say: "We do not exist as a workers' and peasants' 
government for the purpose of legalising and encouraging 
disintegration and ruin." A government is not required for 
this purpose. It is required for the purpose of uniting and 
organising the class-conscious in order to combat lack of 
class consciousness. We cannot blame those who owing to 
their lack of class consciousness throw up everything, close 
their eyes to everything, and try to save themselves by pro- 
curing grain in whatever way they can, but we can blame 
Party people who, while advocating the grain monopoly, 
do not sufficiently foster class consciousness and solidarity 
in action. Yes, the struggle against the bag-trader, against 
the private transportation of grain is a very difficult one be- 



cause it is a struggle against ignorance, against lack of class 
consciousness, against the lack of organisation of the broad 
masses; but we shall never abandon this struggle. Every 
time people try to collect grain on their own, we shall call 
for proletarian socialist methods of combating famine: hav- 
ing united together, let us replace the sick food detachments 
by new forces, by fresher, stronger, more honest, more class- 
conscious and tried men, and we shall collect the same amount 
of grain, the same thousands of poods that are collected 
individually by two hundred persons, each carrying fifteen 
poods, each raising prices and increasing profiteering. 
We shall unite these two hundred persons, we shall create 
a strong, compact workers' army. If we do not succeed in doing 
this at the first attempt we shall repeat our efforts; we 
shall try to induce the class-conscious workers in every 
factory to delegate larger numbers of more reliable people 
for the purpose of combating profiteering, and we 
are sure that the class consciousness, discipline and 
organisation of the workers will in the last resort 
withstand all severe trials. When people are convinced 
by their own experience that individual bag-traders can- 
not help to save hundreds of thousands from starvation 
we shall see the victory of the cause of organisation 
and class consciousness, and by united action we shall 
organise the fight against famine and secure the proper dis- 
tribution of grain. 

I am asked: "Why is not a monopoly introduced on ma- 
nufactured goods, which are as necessary as grain?" My 
reply is: "The Soviet government is adopting all measures 
to this end." You know that there is a tendency to organise, 
to amalgamate the textile factories, the textile industry. 
You know that the majority of the people in the leading 
bodies of this organisation are workers, you know that the 
Soviet government is preparing to nationalise all branches 
of industry; you know that the difficulties that confront us 
in this matter are enormous, and that much effort will be 
required to do all this in an organised manner. We are not 
setting to work on this task in the way governments which 
rely on bureaucrats do. It is quite easy to manage affairs 
in that way: let one man receive 400 rubles per month; let 
another get more, a thousand rubles per month — our busi- 



ness is to give orders and the others must obey. That is how 
all bourgeois countries are administered; they hire officials 
at high salaries, they hire the sons of the bourgeoisie and en- 
trust the administration to them. The Soviet Republic cannot 
be administered in this way. We have no officials to manage 
and guide the work of amalgamating all the textile factories, 
of registering all their property and stocks, of introducing 
a monopoly of all articles of primary necessity, and of pro- 
perly distributing them. We call upon the workers to do this 
work; we call upon the representatives of the Textile Work- 
ers' Union and say to them: "You must form the majority 
on the collegium of the Central Textile Board, and you are 
the majority on it, in the same way as you are the majority 
on the collegiums of the Supreme Economic Council. 
Comrades, workers, take up this very important State 
task yourselves. We know that it is much more difficult 
than appointing efficient officials, but we know also that 
there is no other way of doing it." Power must be placed in the 
hands of the working class, and the advanced workers must, 
in spite of all difficulties, learn by their own bitter expe- 
rience, by their own efforts, by the work of their own 
hands, how all articles, all textile goods, should be distri- 
buted in the interests of the toilers. (Applause.) 

Hence, the Soviet government is doing all it possibly 
can in the present circumstances to introduce a state 
monopoly and to fix prices. It is doing it through the medium 
of the workers, in conjunction with the workers; it gives 
them the majority on the management boards, and in every 
leading centre, as, for example, the Supreme Economic 
Council or the amalgamated metalworks, or the amalga- 
mated sugar refineries, which were nationalised in a few 
weeks. This is a difficult road, but, I repeat, we cannot avoid 
difficulties in the task of getting the workers to adopt a 
new position, workers who have been accustomed and 
have been trained by the bourgeoisie for hundreds of years 
merely to carry out its orders slavishly, to work like convicts, 
of making them feel that they are the government. 
We are the owners of industry, we are the owners of the 
grain, we are the owners of all the wealth of the country. 
Only when this has deeply penetrated the minds of the 
working class, when, by their own experience, by their own 



efforts, they increase their forces tenfold, will all the dif- 
ficulties of the socialist revolution be overcome. 

I conclude by once again appealing to this factory commit- 
tee conference. In the city of Moscow the difficulties are par- 
ticularly great because it is an enormous centre of trade and 
speculation in which, for many years, tens of thousands of 
people have obtained their livelihood by trade and specula- 
tion. Here the difficulties are particularly great, but here 
there are forces that no small town in the country possesses. 
Let the workers' organisations, let the factory committees re- 
member and take firm note of what present events and the fa- 
mine that has descended upon the toilers of Russia teach. New 
organisations, broader organisations of class-conscious and 
advanced workers alone can save the revolution and prevent 
the restoration of the rule of the landowners and capitalists. 
Such workers are now in the majority, but it is not enough; 
they must take a greater part in general state work. In Mos- 
cow we have hosts of cases of profiteers gambling on the 
famine, making profit out of the famine, breaking the state 
grain monopoly, of the rich having everything they desire. 
In Moscow there are 8,000 members of the Communist Party. 
In Moscow the trade unions can delegate 20,000 to 30,000 
men and women whom they can vouch for, who will be 
reliable and staunch exponents of proletarian policy. Unite 
them, create hundreds of thousands of detachments, tackle 
the food problem, search the whole of the rich population, 
and you will secure what you need. (Applause.) 

In my report I told you what successes were achieved 
in this sphere in the town of Yelets; but it is more difficult 
to achieve this in Moscow. I said that Yelets was a well- 
organised town. There are many towns that are much less 
organised because this is a very difficult matter, because it 
is not a matter of a shortage of arms — we have any amount 
of them — the difficulty lies in appointing hundreds and thou- 
sands of completely reliable workers to responsible administ- 
ration posts, workers who understand that they are not work- 
ing in their local cause but in the cause of the whole of Russia, 
who are capable of sticking at their posts as representatives 
of the whole class, of organising the work according to a defi- 
nite and systematic plan, of carrying out orders, of carrying out 
the decisions of the Moscow Soviet, of the Moscow organisa- 



tions representing the whole of proletarian Moscow. The 
whole difficulty lies in organising the proletariat, in training 
it to become more class-conscious than it has been up to 
now. Look at the Petrograd elections. 180 You will see that 
although famine is raging there even worse than in Moscow 
and still greater misfortunes have befallen it, the loyalty 
to the workers' revolution is growing, organisation and 
solidarity are increasing, and you will say to yourselves: the 
disasters that have befallen us are multiplying but the de- 
termination of the working class to overcome all these dif- 
ficulties is multiplying also. Take this path, increase your 
efforts, put thousands of new detachments on this path to 
help to solve the food problem, and together with you, 
relying on your support, we will overcome the famine and 
secure proper distribution. (Applause.) 





The Fourth Moscow Conference of Factory Committees 
wholeheartedly supports the Soviet government's food 
policy and particularly approves (and insists that it should be 
supported by all workers) the policy of uniting the rural 

The liberation of the workers can be achieved only by 
the workers' own efforts, and only the closest alliance 
between the urban workers and the rural poor can overcome 
the resistance of the bourgeoisie and the kulaks, bring all 
surpluses of grain into their hands and achieve proper 
distribution among those in need both in town and country. 

The Conference calls on all factory committees to exert 
every effort to organise broader sections of the workers in 
food detachments and to send them under the leadership of 
the most reliable comrades to give all-round support to the 
food policy of the workers' and peasants' government. 


JUNE 28, 1918 181 


(The workers gave Lenin a rousing welcome.) Lenin spoke 
of the necessity of civil war and called upon the Moscow 
proletariat to organise solidly in the struggle both against 
the forces of counter-revolution and against famine and 

He touched in passing on the Saratov and Tambov events, 
and pointed out that wherever revolts inspired by the Men- 
sheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries broke out, 
the working class rapidly became disillusioned with the views 
of these parties and no less rapidly overthrew the usurpers 
of the power of the workers and peasants. 

We would receive telegrams, he said, appealing for aid, 
but before our troops could get half-way, the workers who 
had sent the appeal would inform us that the need for imme- 
diate assistance had passed as the usurpers had been de- 
feated by local forces. Such was the case in Saratov, Tambov 
and other cities. 

Lenin stated that, in general, war ran counter to the aims 
of the Communist Party. But the war that was being preached 
today was a sacred war; it was a civil war, a war of the 
working class against its exploiters. 

Without effort, without tremendous expenditure of ener- 
gy, he said, we should never set foot on the road to social- 
ism. A successful fight for the ideals of the working class 
entailed organisation. Organisation was also needed to 
consolidate the gains we had won at the cost of such severe 
sacrifice and effort. 



It was harder to retain power than to seize it, and we knew 
of many cases in history when the working class had taken 
power into its hands but had been unable to retain it merely 
because it did not possess strong enough organisations. 

The people were worn out, Lenin continued, and they 
might, of course, be driven to any folly, even to the accept- 
ance of a Skoropadsky; for, in their mass, the people were 

Famine was imminent, but we knew that there was grain 
enough even without Siberia, the Caucasus and the Ukraine. 
There was enough grain in the provinces surrounding Mos- 
cow and Petrograd to last us until the new harvest, but it 
was all hidden away by the kulaks. We must organise the 
poor peasants, so as to get this grain with their help. A ruth- 
less struggle with words, as well as action, must be waged 
on profiteering and profiteers. 

Only the working class, knit together by organisation, 
could explain to the common people the need for war on the 
kulaks. The Russian people must know that the poor 
peasantry had a powerful ally in the shape of the organised 
urban proletariat. 

The working class and the peasantry must not place too 
much hope in the intelligentsia, as many of the intellectuals 
beginning to side with us were expecting our downfall any 

Lenin concluded with an appeal to organise for the struggle 
of the workers and peasants against the kulaks, the 
landowners and the bourgeoisie. (Lenin's speech ended amid 
a general ovation.) 

Izvestia VTsIK No. 133, 
June 29, 1918 

Published according to 
the Izvestia text 



Nobody, thank God, believes in miracles nowadays. 
Miraculous prophecy is a fairy-tale. But scientific prophecy 
is a fact. And in these days, when we so very often encounter 
shameful despondency and even despair around us, it is 
useful to recall one scientific prophecy which has come true. 

Frederick Engels had occasion in 1887 to write of the 
coming world war in a preface to a pamphlet by Sigismund 
Borkheim, In Memory of the German Arch-Patriots of 1806- 
1807 (Zur Erinnerung fiir die deutschen Mordspatrioten 
1806-1807). (This pamphlet is No. XXIV of the Social- 
Democratic Library published in Gottingen-Zurich in 1888.) 

This is how Frederick Engels spoke over thirty years ago 
of the future world war: 

"...No war is any longer possible for Prussia-Germany 
except a world war and a world war indeed of an extent and 
violence hitherto undreamt of. Eight to ten millions of 
soldiers will massacre one another and in doing so devour 
the whole of Europe until they have stripped it barer than 
any swarm of locusts has ever done. The devastations of the 
Thirty Years' War compressed into three or four years, and 
spread over the whole Continent; famine, pestilence, gen- 
eral demoralisation both of the armies and of the mass of 
the people produced by acute distress; hopeless confusion 
of our artificial machinery in trade, industry and credit, 
ending in general bankruptcy; collapse of the old states and 
their traditional state wisdom to such an extent that crowns 
will roll by dozens on the pavement and there will be no- 
body to pick them up; absolute impossibility of foreseeing 
how it will all end and who will come out of the struggle as 
victor; only one result is absolutely certain: general exhaustion 



and the establishment of the conditions for the ultimate 
victory of the working class. 

"This is the prospect when the system of mutual outbid- 
ding in armaments, taken to the final extreme, at last bears 
its inevitable fruits. This, my lords, princes and statesmen, 
is where in your wisdom you have brought old Europe. And 
when nothing more remains to you but to open the last great 
war dance — that will suit us all right (uns kann es recht 
sein). The war may perhaps push us temporarily into the 
background, may wrench from us many a position already 
conquered. But when you have unfettered forces which you 
will then no longer be able again to control, things may go 
as they will: at the end of the tragedy you will be ruined and 
the victory of the proletariat will either be already achieved 
or at any rate (doch) inevitable. 

"London, December 15, 1887 Frederick Engels" 182 

What genius is displayed in this prophecy! And how 
infinitely rich in ideas is every sentence of this exact, clear, 
brief and scientific class analysis! How much could be learnt 
from it by those who are now shamefully succumbing to 
lack of faith, despondency and despair, if ... if people who 
are accustomed to kowtow to the bourgeoisie, or who allow 
themselves to be frightened by it, could but think, were 
but capable of thinking! 

Some of Engels's predictions have turned out differently; 
and one could not expect the world and capitalism to have 
remained unchanged during thirty years of frenzied imperial- 
ist development. But what is most astonishing is that so 
many of Engels's predictions are turning out "to the letter". 
For Engels gave a perfectly exact class analysis, and classes 
and the relations between them have remained unchanged. 

"...The war may perhaps push us temporarily into the 

background " Developments have proceeded exactly along 

these lines, but have gone even further and even worse: 
some of the social-chauvinists who have been "pushed back", 
and their spineless "semi-opponents", the Kautskyites, have 
begun to extol their backward movement and have become 
direct traitors to and betrayers of socialism. 

"...The war may perhaps wrench from us many a position 
already conquered " A number of "legal" positions have 



been wrenched from the working class. But on the other hand 
it has been steeled by trials and is receiving severe but 
salutary lessons in illegal organisation, in illegal struggle and 
in preparing its forces for a revolutionary attack. 

"...Crowns will roll by dozens " Several crowns have 

already fallen. And one of them is worth dozens of others — 
the crown of the autocrat of all the Russias, Nicholas 

"...Absolute impossibility of foreseeing how it will all 

end " After four years of war this absolute impossibility 

has, if one may say so, become even more absolute. 

"...Hopeless confusion of our artificial machinery in trade, 
industry and credit...." At the end of the fourth year of 
war this has been fully borne out in the case of one of the 
biggest and most backward of the states drawn into the 
war by the capitalists — Russia. But do not the growing 
starvation in Germany and Austria, the shortage of clothing 
and raw material and the wearing out of the means of produc- 
tion show that a similar state of affairs is very rapidly 
overtaking other countries as well? 

Engels depicts the consequences brought about only by 
"foreign" war; he does not deal with internal, i.e., civil 
war, without which not one of the great revolutions of his- 
tory has taken place, and without which not a single seri- 
ous Marxist has conceived the transition from capitalism 
to socialism. And while a foreign war may drag on for 
a certain time without causing "hopeless confusion" in the 
"artificial machinery" of capitalism, it is obvious that 
a civil war without such a consequence is quite inconceivable. 

What stupidity, what spinelessness — not to say mercenary 
service to the bourgeoisie — is displayed by those who, like 
our Novaya Zhizn group, Mensheviks, Right Socialist- 
Revolutionaries, etc., while continuing to call themselves 
"socialists", maliciously point to the manifestation of this 
"hopeless confusion" and lay the blame for everything on 
the revolutionary proletariat, the Soviet power, the "uto- 
pia" of the transition to socialism. The "confusion", or raz- 
rukha* to use the excellent Russian word, has been brought 
about by the war'. There can be no severe war without dis- 

Dislocation, disruption. — Ed. 



ruption. There can be no civil war — the inevitable condition 
and concomitant of socialist revolution — without disrup- 
tion. To renounce revolution and socialism "in view of" the 
disruption, only means to display one's lack of principle 
and in practice to desert to the bourgeoisie. 

"...Famine, pestilence, general demoralisation both of the 
armies and of the mass of the people produced by acute 

How simply and clearly Engels draws this indisputable 
conclusion, which must be obvious to everyone who is at 
all capable of reflecting on the objective consequences of 
many years of severe and agonising war. And how astonishing- 
ly stupid are these numerous "Social-Democrats" and pseudo- 
Socialists who will not or cannot realise this most 
simple idea. 

Is it conceivable that a war can last many years without 
both the armies and the mass of the people becoming demo- 
ralised! Of course not. Such a consequence of a long war is 
absolutely inevitable over a period of several years, if not 
a whole generation. And our "men in mufflers", the bour- 
geois intellectual snivelers who call themselves "Social- 
Democrats" and "Socialists", second the bourgeoisie in blam- 
ing the revolution for the manifestations of demoralisa- 
tion or for the inevitable severity of the measures taken 
to combat particularly acute cases of demoralisation — 
although it is as clear as noonday that this demoralisation has 
been produced by the imperialist war, and that no revolu- 
tion can rid itself of such consequences of war without 
a long struggle and without a number of stern measures of 

Our sugary writers in Novaya Zhizn, Vperyod or Dyelo 
Naroda are prepared to grant a revolution of the proletariat 
and other oppressed classes "theoretically", provided only 
that the revolution drops from heaven and is not born and 
bred on earth soaked in the blood of four years of imperial- 
ist butchery of the peoples, with millions upon millions 
of people exhausted, tormented and demoralised by this 

They had heard and admitted "in theory" that a revolu- 
tion should be compared to an act of childbirth; but when 
it came to the point, they disgracefully took fright and 



their fainthearted whimperings echoed the malicious out- 
bursts of the bourgeoisie against the insurrection of the 
proletariat. Consider the descriptions of childbirth given in 
literature, when the authors aim at presenting a truthful 
picture of the severity, pain and horror of the act of travail, 
as in Emile Zola's La joie de vivre (The Joy of Life), for 
instance, or in Veresayev's Notes of a Doctor. Human child- 
birth is an act which transforms the woman into an almost 
lifeless, bloodstained heap of flesh, tortured, tormented 
and driven frantic by pain. But can the "individual" that 
sees only this in love and its sequel, in the transformation 
of the woman into a mother, be regarded as a human 
being? Who would renounce love and procreation for this 

Travail may be light or severe. Marx and Engels, the 
founders of scientific socialism, always said that the transi- 
tion from capitalism to socialism would be inevitably 
accompanied by prolonged birth pangs. And analysing the 
consequences of a world war, Engels outlines simply and 
clearly the indisputable and obvious fact that a revolution 
that follows and is connected with a war (and still more — 
let us add for our part — a revolution which breaks out 
during a war, and which is obliged to grow and maintain 
itself in the midst of a world war) is a particularly severe 
case of childbirth. 

Clearly realising this, Engels speaks with great caution 
of socialism being brought to birth by a capitalist society 
which is perishing in a world war. "Only one result [of a 
world war]," he says, "is absolutely certain: general exhaus- 
tion and the establishment of the conditions for the ultimate 
victory of the working class." 

This thought is expressed even more clearly at the end of 
the preface we are examining. 

"...At the end of the tragedy you (the capitalists and 
landowners, the kings and statesmen of the bourgeoisie) will 
be ruined and the victory of the proletariat will either be 
already achieved or at any rate inevitable." 

Severe travail greatly increases the danger of grave ill- 
ness or of a fatal issue. But while individuals may die in 
the act of childbirth, the new society to which the old sys- 
tem gives birth cannot die; all that may happen is that the 



birth may be more painful, more prolonged, and growth and 
development slower. 

The war has not yet ended. General exhaustion has already 
set in. As regards the two direct results of war predicted 
by Engels conditionally (either the victory of the working 
class already achieved, or the establishment of conditions 
which will make this inevitable, despite all difficulties), 
as regards these two conditions, now, in the middle of 1918, 
we find both in evidence. 

In one, the least developed, of the capitalist countries, 
the victory of the working class is already achieved. In the 
others, with unparalleled pain and effort, the conditions 
are being established which will make this victory "at any 
rate inevitable". 

Let the "socialist" snivelers croak, let the bourgeoisie 
rage and fume, but only people who shut their eyes so as 
not to see, and stuff their ears so as not to hear, can fail to 
notice that all over the world the birth pangs of the old, 
capitalist society, which is pregnant with socialism, have 
begun. Our country, which has temporarily been advanced 
by the march of events to the van of the socialist revolution, 
is undergoing the particularly severe pains of the first 
period of travail. We have every reason to face the future 
with complete assurance and absolute confidence, for it is 
preparing for us new allies and new victories of the social- 
ist revolution in a number of the more advanced countries. 
We are entitled to be proud and to consider ourselves for- 
tunate that it has come to our lot to be the first to fell in 
one part of the globe that wild beast, capitalism, which has 
drenched the earth in blood, which has reduced humanity 
to starvation and demoralisation, and which will assuredly 
perish soon, no matter how monstrous and savage its 
frenzy in the face of death. 

June 29, 1918 

Pravda No. 133, 

July 2, 1918 
Signed: N. Lenin 

Published according to 
the Pravda text 


JULY 2, 1918 


Lenin pointed out that the army, like the means of pro- 
duction, had formerly been an instrument of oppression 
in the hands of the exploiting class. Today in Russia both 
were becoming weapons in the struggle for the interests of 
the working people. 

This radical change was no easy thing to accomplish, as 
the soldiers of the old tsarist army knew from the discipline 
that held that army in a vice. Lenin then cited a recent 
experience of his. When he was in Finland, he had heard an 
old Finnish peasant woman say that whereas in the old 
days the man with the gun was there to prevent her gather- 
ing faggots in the forest, today he was no longer dangerous; 
on the contrary, he even protected her. In spite of all the. 
mud slung at us by the bourgeois and their followers, Lenin 
said, in spite of all the plotting of the whiteguards, once 
it had been brought home even to such unenlightened masses, 
the exploited, that the present army was their protector, 
the Soviet government stood firmly planted. 

Lenin then went on to say that, as in the past, famine 
was strengthening the hand of the profiteers and capitalists. 
The same thing was occurring today, so that the new army 
might in the civil war have to deal with these people who 
were making money out of the famine. Let the old world — 
the representatives of an outworn society — go on trying to 
help the starving in the old way; the new world would, 
despite them, do it in a new way. We would win, Lenin said, 



if the vanguard of the working people, the Red Army, 
remembered that it was there to represent and defend the 
interests of international socialism. Lenin further said 
that we were not alone, as had been shown by the events in 
Austria, as well as by like-minded people in all the coun- 
tries of Europe, who, although held in subjection at 
present, were doing their work. 

Pravda No. 135, 
July 4, 1918 

Published according to 
the Pravda text 


JULY 3, 1918 184 


Dealing with Russia's international position, Lenin said 
that it continued to be dangerous. The external enemy was 
not only threatening to attack Russia but was already tear- 
ing pieces from her. 

This unstable and precarious situation would probably 
continue until capital was overthrown by the efforts of the 
working class of the whole world. The present stage must 
be taken advantage of as a breathing-space in which to 
consolidate the Soviet regime. 

Speaking of the world war, Lenin stated that the victory 
of German arms was making peace between the imperial- 
ist countries impossible. The British and French capital- 
ists could not reconcile themselves to Germany retaining 
the huge booty she had seized. Moreover, after a series of 
offensives in France, where Germany had lost hundreds of 
thousands of men, a certain balance of forces had ensued, 
and German bayonets no longer constituted a direct threat. 
Besides, the Entente 185 imperialists were fully alive to the 
disruption and catastrophic state of affairs that had come 
about in Austria-Hungary. 

There was one conclusion to be drawn from the general 
state of affairs, and that was that the war was becoming 
hopeless. This hopelessness was an earnest that our socialist 
revolution had a very good chance of holding on until the 
world revolution broke out; and the guarantee of this was 



the war, which only the working masses could end. Our task 
was to maintain the Soviet regime intact; and that was what 
we were doing by retreating and manoeuvring. To join open 
battle at this juncture would damage the position of the 
world revolution. 

Describing the economic state of the country as we had 
inherited it from the various Right parties formerly in power, 
Lenin spoke of the great difficulties that would attend 
the work of economic development organised on new lines, 
on new principles. 

In the struggle against famine, he said, we had two 
enemies: the rich and the economic disruption. In this 
struggle it was essential that the poor peasant should believe 
in a fraternal alliance with the worker. He would believe 
only deeds, not words. Our only hope here lay in an alliance 
of the class-conscious urban workers with the poor peasants. 
The aim of this struggle — the right of all to bread and the 
right to fair distribution — was a great aim. The ability to 
distribute equally was the foundation of socialism, which 
we were building. For this we were answerable not only to 
our brothers, but to the workers of the whole world. 

They must be shown that socialism was not something 
impossible, but a firm workers' system, and one for which 
the proletariat of the whole world must strive. 

Pravda No. 135, 
July 4, 1918 

Published according to 
the Pravda text 


JULY 4-10, 1918 

Newspaper report published Published according to the text of the 

July 6, 1918 book: Fifth All-Russia Congress of 

in Izvestia VTsIK No. 139 Soviets, Verbatim Report, All-Russia 

C.E.C. Publishers, 1918; first five 
paragraphs of the reply to the debate 
published according to the text 
of the magazine Bulletin of Ways 
of Communication No. 7-8, 1918 




JULY 5, 1918 

Comrades, permit me, even though the previous speaker 
was at times extremely excited, 187 to submit my report on 
behalf of the Council of People's Commissars in the usual 
way, that is, to deal with the main questions of principle 
in order of merit, and not enter into the argument which 
the previous speaker would so much like to have, and 
which, of course, I have no intention of declining altogether. 
You know that since the last Congress, the chief factor 
which has determined our position, changed our policy and 
shaped our tactics and attitude towards certain other par- 
ties in Russia has been the Brest Treaty. You will recall 
how many reproaches were hurled at us at the last Congress, 
how many accusations were levelled at us, and how many 
voices were raised declaring that this famous respite would 
not help Russia, that in any case an international imperial- 
ist alliance had been concluded, and that in practice the 
retreat we were advocating would lead nowhere. This basic 
factor determined the whole position of the capitalist states, 
too, and we must naturally dwell on it. I think that the past 
three and a half months have made it absolutely indispu- 
table that despite all reproaches and accusations we ware 
right. We may say that the proletariat and the peasantry, 
who do not exploit others, do not make profits out of the 
people's hunger, are entirely and unreservedly on our side, 
and at any rate are against those unwise people who would 
embroil them in war, who are against the Brest Treaty. 



Nine-tenths of the people are on our side, and the clearer 
the situation becomes, the more certain it is that now, 
when the West-European imperialist parties, the two chief 
imperialist groups, are locked in a life-and-death struggle, 
when with every month, every week, every day they are 
pushing each other nearer and nearer to the abyss whose 
outlines we can clearly perceive, at such a time it is clearer 
than ever to us that our tactics were right. That is best felt 
and realised by those who have been through the war, who 
have seen what war means and do not talk about it in airy 
terms. To us it is perfectly clear that as long as each of these 
groups is stronger than we are, and as long as that radical 
change which will permit the workers, and the working 
people of Russia in general, to enjoy the fruits of the revolu- 
tion, to recover from the blow that has been dealt them and 
to rise to their full stature, so as to create a new, organised 
and disciplined army on new lines, in order that we may, not 
merely in words, but in deeds ... (loud applause on the Left. 
Voice from the Right: "Kerensky!"), as long as that radical 
change has not come, we have to wait. Therefore, the deeper 
we go down among the masses of the people, and the nearer 
we get to the workers of the mills and factories and to the 
working peasants, who do not exploit hired labour, do not 
defend the profiteering interests of the kulak, who conceals 
his grain and fears the food dictatorship, the more surely 
may we say that there too we shall meet and are meeting — 
in fact we may say with absolute conviction that we have 
already met — with full sympathy and unanimous accord. 
Yes, it is a fact that at present the people do not want to 
fight, cannot fight, and will not fight these enemies — the 
imperialists — however much some may try, in their ignor- 
ance or infatuation with phrases, to drive them into this war, 
and no matter what catchwords they may use as a camou- 
flage. No, comrades, anyone who now calls for war directly 
or indirectly, in open or veiled form, anyone who howls about 
the Brest Peace Treaty being a noose, fails to see that it is 
Kerensky and the landowners, capitalists and kulaks who 
are putting a noose around the necks of the workers and peas- 
ants of Russia ... (Voice: "Mirbach!" Commotion.) Let them 
scream, as they do at every meeting; among the people their 
cause is hopeless! (Applause and commotion.) 



I am not a bit surprised that, in view of the predicament 
these people are in, the only way they can answer is by 
shouts, hysterical outcries, abuse and wild behaviour (ap- 
plause), when they have no other arguments.... (Voice: "We 
have arguments!" Commotion.) 

Ninety-nine out of every hundred Russian soldiers know 
what incredible suffering it cost to get the mastery of this 
war. They know that in order to put war on a new socialist 
and economic basis (cries of "Mirbach won't let you!"), 
tremendous effort will be required, and first of all we had 
to put an end to the war of plunder. Knowing that the fren- 
zied forces of imperialism are continuing to fight, and 
that in the three months which have elapsed since the last 
Congress they have moved several steps nearer to the abyss, 
they will not join in this war. After we had performed our 
duty to all the nations, realising the value of a declaration 
of peace and bringing its value home to the workers of all 
countries through our Brest delegation, headed by Comrade 
Trotsky, when we openly proposed an honest democratic 
peace, this proposal was frustrated by the frenzied bourgeoi- 
sie of all countries. Our position cannot be any other but 
to wait, and the people will yet see these frenzied imperial- 
ist cliques, strong though they still are today, tumble 
into the abyss which they are now approaching, as everybody 
can see.... (Applause.) Everybody can see that who does not 
deliberately close his eyes. In these three and a half months, 
during which the frenzied imperialist party has been doing 
its best to drag out the war, this abyss has undoubtedly drawn 
nearer. We know, feel and realise that we are not yet ready 
for war; that is what the soldiers, the men under arms, who 
know what war means in practice, are saying. And as for 
the cries that we should throw off the Brest noose at once, 
they come from the Mensheviks, the Right Socialist- 
Revolutionaries and the followers of Kerensky, the Constitu- 
tional-Democrats. You know where the followers of the land- 
owners and the capitalists, where the hangers-on of the 
Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and Constitutional- 
Democrats still stand. In that camp, the speeches of the Left 
Socialist-Revolutionaries, who also incline towards war, 
will be greeted with loud applause. The Left Socialist- 
Revolutionaries, as the previous speakers have said, find 



themselves in an awkward predicament: they have landed 
in the wrong box. (Applause.) 

We know that great revolutions arise from the very depths 
of the people, that this takes months and years, and we 
are not surprised that in the course of the revolution the 
Left Socialist-Revolutionary party has shown such incred- 
ible vacillations. Trotsky has told us about these vacilla- 
tions here, and it only remains for me to add that on Octo- 
ber 26, when we invited the Left Socialist-Revolutionary 
comrades to join the government, they refused, and when 
Krasnov was at the gates of Petrograd, they were not with 
us, with the consequent result that they helped not us, but 
Krasnov. We are not surprised at these vacillations. Yes, 
this party has been through a great deal. But, comrades, 
there is a limit to everything. 

We know that revolution is a thing that is learned by 
experience and practice, that a revolution becomes a real 
revolution only when tens of millions of people rise up with 
one accord, as one man. (Lenin s words are drowned by applause. 
Cries of "Long live the Soviets!") This struggle, which 
is raising us to a new life, has been begun by one hundred 
and fifteen million people: this great struggle must be 
examined with the utmost attention. (Loud applause.) In Octo- 
ber, when the Soviet regime was founded, on October 26, 1917, 
when ... (commotion, shouts and applause) our party and its 
representatives on the Central Executive Committee invited 
the Left Socialist-Revolutionary party to join the govern- 
ment, it refused. When the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries 
refused to join our government they were not with us, but 
against us. (Commotion on the Left Socialist-Revolutionary 
benches.) I am very sorry to have to say things you do not 
like. (The commotion on the Right becomes louder.) But 

what's to be done? If Krasnov, the Cossack general (The 

commotion and outcries prevent Lenin from continuing.) 
When, on October 26, you vacillated, not knowing your- 
selves what you wanted, and refused to join us.... (Commo- 
tion lasting several minutes.) The truth is hard to swallow! 
Let me remind you that those who vacillated, who do not 
know themselves what they want and refuse to join us, 
willingly listen to the fables of others. I have told you that 
the soldier who has been in the war (Commotion and 



applause.) When the previous speaker had the floor the 
vast majority of the delegates did not interrupt her. Well, 
it is only to be expected. If these people prefer to withdraw 
from the Congress, well, then, good riddance! {Commotion 
and excitement on the Right benches.) 

And so, comrades, the whole course of events has shown 
that we were right in concluding the Brest peace. And those 
who tried at the last Congress of Soviets to crack feeble 
jokes about the respite have seen and learnt that we have 
secured a breathing-space; true, it cost us incredible effort, 
but during this breathing-space our workers and peasants 
have taken a tremendous step forward to socialist construc- 
tion, while the Western powers, on the contrary, have taken 
a tremendous step towards that abyss for which imperial- 
ism is heading faster and faster with every week of this 

And so the only way I can explain the conduct of those 
who denounce our tactics because of the difficulty of our 
situation is that they are completely bewildered. I repeat 
that one only has to recall the past three and a half months. 
I would remind those who were at the last Congress of some 
of the things that were said there, and would recommend 
those who were not to read the minutes or the newspaper 
reports of that Congress, which will convince them that 
events have fully corroborated our tactics. There can be 
no boundary line between the victories of the October 
Revolution and the victories of the international socialist 
revolution; outbursts are bound to begin in other countries. 
And in order to hasten them we did all we could in the Brest 
period. Those who have been through the revolutions of 
1905 and 1917, those who have pondered over them and 
examined them thoughtfully and seriously, will know that 
these revolutions in our country were engendered with 
incredible difficulty. 

Two months before January 1905 or February 1917 no 
revolutionary, whatever his experience and knowledge, 
however familiar he was with the life of the people, could 
have foreseen that Russia would be shaken by such explo- 
sions. To fasten on individual cries and launch appeals 
to the masses which are tantamount to terminating the peace 
and plunging us into war is the policy of people who are 



utterly bewildered and have lost their heads completely. 
And to prove that this is so, I will cite the words of a per- 
son whose sincerity neither I nor anybody else will ques- 
tion — the words of Comrade Spiridonova, from the speech 
which was published in Golos Trudovovo Krestyanstva, 188, 
and which has not been repudiated. In this speech of June 
30, Comrade Spiridonova inserted three totally irrelevant 
lines to the effect that the Germans had presented us with 
an ultimatum to deliver to them 2,000 million rubles' worth 
of textiles. 

A party which drives its most sincere representatives into 
such an awful quagmire of lies and deceit, such a party is 
absolutely doomed. The workers and peasants cannot help 
knowing what tremendous effort and anguish it cost us to sign 
the Brest Treaty. Surely, it is not necessary to exaggerate the 
hardships of that peace by the kind of fables and fabrications 
to which even the sincerest members of that party resort. 
But we know that truth is with the people, and we are 
guided by it, while this party writhes in hysterics. From 
that standpoint, conduct inspired by such utter bewilder- 
ment is worse than any provocation. Especially if we com- 
pare all the parties of Russia as a whole, as a scientific at- 
titude towards the revolution requires. One must never neg- 
lect to examine the relations of all the parties as a whole. 
Individual persons or groups may be mistaken, may be baffled, 
may not be able to explain their own conduct; but if we 
take all the parties of Russia as a whole and examine their 
mutual relations, there can be no mistake. Just see what the 
Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, Kerensky, Savinkov and 
the rest, are saying now, when they hear the appeals of the 

Left Socialist-Revolutionaries Why, they applaud like 

mad. They would be glad to embroil Russia in a war just 
now, when it would suit Milyukov's purpose. And to talk 
like that, to talk now about the Brest peace being a noose, 
is to cast the landowner's noose around the neck of the 
Russian peasant. When they talk here about fighting the 
Bolsheviks, like the previous speaker, who spoke about a 
quarrel with the Bolsheviks, my reply is: no, comrades, this 
is no quarrel, but a genuine and irrevocable rupture, a 
rupture between those who are bearing the whole onus of 
the situation by telling the people the truth, and not allow- 



ing themselves to be intoxicated by outcries, and those who 
are intoxicating themselves with such outcries and involun- 
tarily doing the work of the enemy, the work of provoca- 
teurs. (Applause.) 

I will now conclude the first part of my report. During 
these three and a half months of frantic imperialist war, 
the imperialist states have drawn nearer to the abyss into 
which they are driving the people. This wounded beast 
has torn many a lump of flesh from our living organism. Our 
enemies are nearing this abyss so fast that even if they had 
more than three and a half months at their disposal, and even 
if the imperialist carnage were again to inflict just as heavy 
losses on us, it is they who would perish, not we; for the 
rapidity with which their power of resistance is diminishing 
is drawing them rapidly nearer to the abyss. We, on the 
other hand, in spite of the tremendous difficulties, which 
we do not conceal from the people, after these three and a 
half months have many a healthy shoot of a healthy organ- 
ism to show; both in industry and everywhere else, small- 
scale constructive work is going on, unpretentious and 
unsensational though it may be. It has already yielded very 
fruitful results, and, given another three months, six months, 
a whole winter season of such work, we shall march forward, 
while the West-European imperialist beast, worn out by 
the struggle, will be unable to stand such a contest, because 
within it forces are maturing which, although they have no 
faith in themselves as yet, will lead imperialism to its doom. 
And what has already been begun there, and begun radically 
and fundamentally, is not likely to be changed in three and 
a half months. Far too little is being said about this con- 
structive, small-scale, creative work, and it seems to me that 
we should talk about it more. I, for my part, cannot pass 
over this fact in silence, if only because the attacks of the 
previous speaker must be taken into account. I would men- 
tion the resolution of the Central Executive Committee of 
April 29, 1918.* At the time I made a speech in which 
I spoke of the immediate tasks of the Soviet government,** 
and I pointed out that notwithstanding the incredible 

* See this volume, pp. 314-17.— Ed. 
**Ibid., pp. 279-313.— Ed. 



difficulties of our position prime attention at home must be 
given to constructive work. 

And here we must cherish no illusions, and must say that 
to this work, difficult though it may be, we must devote 
all our efforts. Our experience, which I can tell you about, 
shows that in this respect we have undoubtedly made big 
strides. To be sure, if one looks only for outward results, 
as the bourgeoisie do, seizing on our individual mistakes, 
one can scarcely speak of success; but we look at it from a 
totally different angle. The bourgeoisie picks on the adminis- 
tration of the river fleet, for example, and points out how 
often we have set about reconstructing it and proclaims with 
malicious glee that the Soviet government cannot cope with 
the job. To which I reply that it is true that we have time and 
again reconstructed the administration of our river fleet, 
as we have the administration of the railways, and now are 
about to undertake an even bigger reorganisation of the Eco- 
nomic Council. That is the whole meaning of the revolution, 
namely, that socialism has passed from the sphere of a dogma, 
which can be discussed only by people who understand 
nothing at all, from the sphere of book knowledge, of a 
programme, to the sphere of practical work. And today the 
workers and peasants are making socialism with their own 

The times have passed, and in Russia, I am sure, have 
passed beyond recall, when we used to argue about the socialist 
programme on the basis of book knowledge. Today socialism 
can be discussed only on the basis of experience. The whole 
meaning of the revolution lies in the fact that it has for the 
first time in history discarded the old apparatus of bour- 
geois officialdom, the bourgeois system of administration, 
and has created conditions which enable the workers and 
peasants themselves to set about this job, a job of incredible 
difficulty, whose difficulties it would be absurd to conceal 
from ourselves; for the capitalists and landowners have for 
centuries been hounding and persecuting tens of millions 
of people even for harbouring the thought of administering 
the land. Now, in the space of a few weeks, a few months, 
in the midst of desperate and frightful disruption, when the 
whole body of Russia has been bruised and battered by the 
war, so that the people are like a man who has been thrashed 



within an inch of his life — at such a time, when the tsars, 
the landowners and the capitalists have left us with a coun- 
try in a state of utter disruption, the new job, the new work 
of building must be shouldered by the new classes, by the 
workers and those peasants who do not exploit hired workers 
and do not profiteer in grain. Yes, this is an extremely dif- 
ficult task, but an extremely rewarding one. Every month 
of such work and such experience is worth ten, if not twenty, 
years of our history. Yes, we are not afraid to confess what 
an acquaintance with our decrees will show, namely, that we 
have constantly to alter them; we have not yet produced 
anything finished and complete, we do not yet know a social- 
ism that can be embodied in clau